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Old 01-03-2004, 01:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Brakes freezing

Has anyone had a problem with brake fluid, pedal, calipers, master cylinder or anything else on the brake system freezing in extreme cold?
I have a '99 4runner SR5, V6. I have only had it for 4 months now and this is its firts winter in the extreme cold of North Dakota. I don't have a garage, so it has to stay outside during the night. Today around lunch (first trip of the day) I started backing out of my parking spot and as I tried to press the brake pedal it did not move and we just kept going towards the car parked behind us. I had to use the E-brake to stop. After I got it stopped, I kept pressing the brake pedal slowly and gently a number of times and I got it to move. It moved a little at first, then a bit more, and after about a minute of "exercising it" it seemed to come back to normal and work fine.
Any ideas as to what can be causing that and what I can do to avoid future problems?
I have installed an oil-pan and transmission pan heaters and a trickle charger on the battery that I plug in all the time the car is parked, but the brakes problem today caught me by surprise and I have no idea what to do about it.
Oh... Something relevant I almost forgot... The temperatures outside this morning were 10F below zero (around 50F below zero with the wind-chill).
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Old 01-03-2004, 02:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thats pretty cold. I have never heard of the brakes freezing but being very stiff i can understand. If you continue to have this problem you could buy a battery blanket and wrap that around the master cylinder to see if that works. If it does'nt ,no loss ,use it for the battery. That would narrow the problem down to the front calipers icing up.
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Old 01-03-2004, 05:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i know that over time moisture can work itself into brake lines............i dont know if it could freeze with it being mixed in with the brake fluid, but maybe a brake flush and refill would help your problem.

maybe using a synthetic brake fluid would help out since its so damn cold where you live.
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Old 01-03-2004, 05:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I would definitely flush and bleed the brakes. I used to use silicone fluid, but they say not on ABS brakes. I would use a high quality DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid. Bleed it til the fluid comes out clear, and I would try to do it when the car temp was above freezing (in a heated barn or garage).
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Old 01-03-2004, 10:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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it has recently been a little bit cold here the past few weeks, and the other day when i was coming home from the mountains from skiing i thought i would make a little detour and do a little offroading. well the next morning i went to go over to my dad's house at about 6:00 am and my brakes were frozen. the thing is, is that i took my ebrake off and everything, but when i gave it gas, i couldn't move forward at all. i called my dad and he said it was probably water on the outside of my brake lines that froze. keep in mind that the temps didn't drop below 25 F. what do you guys think?
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Old 01-04-2004, 06:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I used to have that happen ALL the time on my H**p Ch***kee. The "non-asbestos" brake linings. Some formulations will absorb some water. Then they freeze or rust stick to the drums. I found that pressing VERY hard on the brakes would sometimes break it loose.

In warm weather, they would absorb moisture out of the air overnight when it rained. Then, the first few brake applications would lock up the rear wheels, until the moisture was warmed out of the linings. Ir really sucked. Be driving away from the house and skid the rear tires at the first 3-4 stop signs..

Changed the brake linings to the NAPA "application engineered" type and have had no further issues with freezing, skidding, or sticking. (been almost 2 years now)
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
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-10 deg. F here this AM. Experienced same situation as the original poster. Happened a few times last year at similar temps as well. Any ideas on a solution?
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Like said above, flush the system. Brake fluid does gather moisture over time, and it holds water very well. When you get too much water mixed in the system, it'll freeze. I had mine flushed last year, and I was in -15 degree weather just last month. I froze, but the brakes didn't!
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have the problem where my brakes won't release properly, mostly on the initial few applications when it's cold. I come off the brake and either have to "break" free with the accelerator or the car won't roll or barely rolls. It's impacted my mileage significantly. It seemed to happen out-of-the-blue after I had new tires installed. No brake work or anything... Odd thing is it'll drift backwards but not forward when it occurs.
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Old 01-18-2005, 11:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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yes that happened to me only once in Edmonton last year during the outside hockey game -28 C. I drove up to a stop sign and pushed on my brake pedal and nothing, drove right through. Luckly no cars were coming. I tried pushing hard on the pedal and eventually they started to work. I looked under my hood and the fluid looked dark but not frozen. I drove home back to Vancouver and bleeded my brakes with new fluid. I could tell the difference in color right away.
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Old 01-19-2005, 12:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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if i left my handbrake on overnight in the winter, my rear drum brakes used to freeze up. i'd just have to pretty much wait, and keep pumping my brakes. until the rear tires finally let loose so that i could drive. then i just stopped using the handbrake altogether when i parked. (it was an automatic, so the handbrake wasn't necessary anyways)
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm resurrecting this old thread!

I have the same thing happening as the original poster.

I noticed it last winter. I thought maybe it was moisture in old fluid, so I had the brake system flushed. The problem persisted.

Any other ideas other than moisture in the fluid? Or the type of brake pad material. When it first started happening I was running ceramic pads, and now I'm just running cheap 'ol Duralast pads.

Sometimes just pressing firmly a few times will cause them to free up.. and the pedal goes down further when this happens (like they're being bled), but then they're back to normal. I've had times where they were stuck for a good 10 minutes though.
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Old 12-05-2010, 04:47 AM   #13 (permalink)
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If you are sure it is the front brakes, and not the rear, I'd check a few things.

Make sure all the moving pieces (shims, pins) are lubed well (buy some Permatex silicone, good stuff) to start with. Then move on to check both front brakes line hoses. If you can get a good stream flowing out of each side, they are probably OK. Maybe sticking calipers, but not likely.

You should also check the condition of the check valve located in the brake booster housing. A vacuum hose runs off it into the upper manifold. When the valve sticks, it fails to allow for the proper amount of vaccum to enter the booster needed to work the brakes correctly. If this problem is only occuing in the winter, I'd start here.
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Old 12-05-2010, 09:44 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm not sure if it's the front or rear... I'm not leaning one way or the other because I have no clue. I'll give it a look'see though. Thanks.
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Old 12-06-2010, 08:59 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by J2F42C View Post
You should also check the condition of the check valve located in the brake booster housing. A vacuum hose runs off it into the upper manifold. When the valve sticks, it fails to allow for the proper amount of vaccum to enter the booster needed to work the brakes correctly. If this problem is only occuing in the winter, I'd start here.
This. The check valve and gasket cost around $30. I have the parts, need to put them in ASAP. This is not a fun problem to have!
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:36 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I would still lead toward flushing the fluid if the check valve does not work.

Also, anywhere there is a rubber hose that the brake fluid is running through or a metal fitting there could be unvisible cracks or holes or gaps that are so small fluid doesnt leak out but moisture (humidity) can be sucked in by the hydroscopic brake fluid.

Brake fluid is something that needs to be maintained regularly and most people neglect it. It is just the nature of the beast. Synthetic or not.
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:36 PM
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