Hey guys. I have a question I hope one of you can answer for me. I was
working on my brother's truck yesterday doing some maintenence. I also
replaced the headlight switch since his fog lights weren't working and I
also replaced the RWAL speed sensor on the rear differential. The truck
is a 99 Ram 1500 auto with the 360. The brake light on the dash as well
as the dash ABS light were on. The truck would have a tendency for the
wheels to lock up even when applying normal brake pedal pressure.
Speedometer worked fine.
After changing the sensor on the differential the lights remained on.
So I disconnected the negative battery cable for a few minutes. After
reconnecting the cable and starting the truck the lights were out. We
drove around the block and everything looked good. No warning lights and
when I told him to stomp on the brakes they didn't lock up anymore. Well
he just called me a few minutes ago and said while driving to work this
morning (about 15 miles) both the brake light and the ABS light came
back on again.
I noticed yesterday when I put the emergency brake on that there was
very little to no resistance in the pedal. Also the truck rolled
backwards and it appeared the emergency brake was not holding the vehicle.
What I'd like to know is this. Is the emergency brake adjustible? If
so how do I adjust it? Would a bad or misadjusted emergency brake cause
the ABS and brake warning lights on the dash to come on? Also he's never
had new brake shoes put on the rear wheel of his truck. He's done the
front pads but not the rear. Would this also cause the two warning
lights to come on? Fluid level is fine. Or could it be a bad sensor? I
don't think the sensor is bad but I guess a new one could be bad. My bet
is on the back brakes needing to be serviced but I want to confirm this
with you guys. Truck has just under 100K on it. I do have the factory
service manual here on a CD from when I owned my 01 Ram. Thanks.
This will happen if the CAB (controller anti-lock brake) module loses power.
Check the wiring at the little black box next to the master cylinder.
It is... if it's just the e-brake, there's a tensioner on the cable about
mid-way back along the driver's frame rail. Follow the brake cable from
underneath the cab, and you'll find the adjuster. You need either a REALLY
deep 1/2" socket, or a ratcheting box-end wrench (you could also do it with
a regular wrench, it'll just take longer). Tighten this adjuster to remove
most of the slack from the cable. You don't want it too tight, or the
brakes will drag.
If the cable's adjusted properly, it could be the rear brakes themselves are
out of adjustment. There's an adjuster mechanism on the bottom of the
brakes, accessible through some oval holes in the back side of the brake
backing plate (might have rubber plugs in the holes). You can ratchet the
adjuster wheel with a flat-head screwdriver (using the screwdriver as a
lever, you want to turn the adjuster wheel in the 'up' direction). It will
click as you turn it. The procedure is to turn it until it won't go anymore
(brakes shoes pressed against the drum), then rotate it back 5-10 clicks.
You make need a second screwdriver to push the adjusting arm out of the way
to allow you to rotate the wheel in the 'down' direction.
Well, first things first, then. Pull the wheels and drums and see what they
I have great respect for your technical knowledge of Ram trucks, but when
I've adjusted my rear breaks I've raised the rear wheels, then turned the
star adjuster until the breaks just starts to drag, then turn it back until
there is no drag - usually 1 spoke of the star adjuster. Thats from the
factory service manual. Does your method preclude the need to lift the rear
Right - you don't need to lift the wheels. In your method, which is also
perfectly acceptable, when you start to feel drag, you can still advance the
adjuster wheel several more clicks. The end result of both methods is
roughly the same (give or take a click).
Is it normal to get 100+ out of rear brakes? Mine(1998 RAM 4x4) still looked
good at 123K but I had them replaced anyway.
The fronts seem to require replacement every 45K+/-.
Seems like the fronts must be doing most(all) of the work. I love my truck
but I am unimpressed with its braking capabilities.
Is this what most folks are seeing?
It would seem that you were only stopping with your front brakes. Thus the
unimpressive braking capability. I'd suggest that perhaps you manually
adjust your rear brakes at every oil change or 5k miles to ensure they are
helping to stop your truck.
your rear brakes are adjusted every time you apply your emergency brakes.
make sure you apply your e-brake every time you stop your truck. even with
this i still have to manually adjust the rears occasionally. takes about
three spins of the adjuster with a screwdriver and i don't even have to jack
it up off the ground.
as to the braking of late 90's dodge trucks i am with you on the weak
feeling brakes. remember that the fronts are the same undersized
kelsy-hayes units that are on gm products. i had wear issues that were
totally screwy too. i started using raybestos front rotors and a very high
quality aftermarket brake pad and started getting an extra 15k out of the
in order to get my 97 to actually stop, many times i would two foot the
brake pedal and not even feel like i was slowing down if there was a load on
the truck, i did this. better rotors, better pads, constant adjusting of
the rear brakes and one more thing. i don't recommend this to others but it
really worked for me. i disconnected all of the antilock features. it is
still almost impossible to get it to lock up with my big michelin at's. i
tested the truck before and after the neutering of the antilock and i got a
25 to 30 percent decrease in stopping distance from two different test
speeds. of course i am the same guy who removed his airbag completely from
the steering column. those mid 90's airbags are more dangerous than
bouncing off the steeering wheel i.m.o. be careful when you alter a vehicle
from its original design. if you screw it up you can kill yourself or
actually holding the brakes down while in reverse will spin the adjusters
also. but if you will engage your emergency brake and release it 10 to
twenty times you can feel thre brakes tighten if the adjusters are already
close. if it is way out of adjustment crawling under the truck is the
quickest and most efficient way.
Yeah... that would explain things. As others have mentioned, the adjusters
don't really work when going in reverse (like backing out of a parking spot)
and braking to a stop. Regular use of the e-brake will keep them adjusted,
which most of us don't use in an automatic.
My '99 was a stick, so I used the e-brake all the time, and the rears always
stayed in adjustment. My '95 is an automatic, and I need to keep the rears
in adjustment manually (because I never remember to cycle the e-brake).
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