Question about 99 Ram brakes

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.
Bob
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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.

No
Well, first things first, then. Pull the wheels and drums and see what they look like.
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Tom Lawrence wrote:

Thanks Tom. At least I know where to start.
Bob
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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 wheels?

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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).
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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?

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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.

I hope not.
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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 front brakes.
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 others. michael
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I thought they only adjusted when you came to a full stop in reverse (with the brakes applied).

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<snip>
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. michael

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nunya wrote:

How can that possibly work?
--
Ken



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When out of adjustment, and unused, they'll last darn near forever :)
Do you have an automatic transmission?
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Yes 46re
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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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Thanks I'll give adjusting the brakes a go.
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