Left my brakes in a snowbank?

We recently got a huge dump of snow and, since I don't have a driveway, I had to throw my '83 240 into a snow drift to park it. After digging out a couple of days later my brakes are not functioning
correctly: The car stops (and I can even lock up the brakes) but the braking action doesn't start until I've pushed the pedal twice as far and the "Brake Failure" light is lit on the dash. I've had master cylinder failures before (replaced about 18 months ago) but those symptoms were different (soft brakes and the pedal keeps traveling after you've stopped). The fluid in the reservoir is well above the minimum line.
My brother-in-law suggested that snow damage to the parking brake lines in a 4-wheel disk system could effect brake pedal travel. Anyone have any insight on this?
Am I likely fooling myself trying to drive 'till payday?
Thanks for any suggestions, blurp
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I would suspect that you have lost one of your brake lines. Is the fluid level low? Volvo did an amazing job making sure the brakes work pretty well even if half of the circuit is not working but I would be nervous about other damage to the other circuit and loosing everything. Is there any parking garages you can sneak into and jack it up out of the snow and look at the lines? Chris V
blurp wrote:

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My guess is that there were impurities in the brake lines due to age and sitting in the cold, pressed up against the snow froze something - maybe something in the master cylinder itself. (there's a diaprham IIRC, of some sort). Thawing out, things iddn't work so well.
Or, you just hit a line too hard and put a kink in it so that air seeped in.
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OK, so I took the car to a new mechanic this morning and I just got the call. Seems one of the rear calipers is leaking and has soaked the pads with brake fluid. Recommended solution is replacing the calipers and pads (+the obligatory bleed and flush) to the tune of $340CAD+tax. He gave me the option of choosing a used caliper for a savings of about $60. Since the car is 21 years old I'll probably go with the used caliper (if he can find one).
Thanks to all for your advice and insight.
Regards, blurp
On Fri, 30 Jan 2004 17:34:34 GMT, the illustrious Joseph Oberlander

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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 12:07:45 -0500, blurp ( snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com) wrote:

The caliper must have been leaking to begin with. I have a hard time believing that leaving the car in a snowbank caused a caliper to leak.
Anyway IPDUSA has rebuilt calipers for around $100 US (including a pad). They also have caliper rebuild kits that are $30, and I'm guessing all you will need are new piston seals.
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Bev A. Kupf
"The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne" -- Chaucer
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Well I too was surprised by the diagnosis. The mechanic pretty much expressed the same surprise and suggested that the snowbank was strictly a coincidence. I'm not familliar how the structure looks and don't have any diagrams available to me BUT my next thought was that the brakeline may have been pulled from where it connects to the caliper, thus damaging the caliper.
Maybe it's a safety issue in the same way that they can't repair a seatbelt system, they must replace it by law.
Thanks again, blurp
On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 17:28:48 GMT, the illustrious "Bev A. Kupf"

83 240Turbo 320,000km and counting!
"In the absence of facts I will speculate wildly."
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Look at the language Blurp used to describe the parking job originally:
"We recently got a huge dump of snow and, since I don't have a driveway, I had to throw my '83 240 into a snow drift to park it."
To me, this implies he rammed it into a snowdrift. Maybe the snow was forced above the brake caliper, the warm engine heat caused it to slowly melt and trickle down into the caliper where it then re-froze and expanded causing the brake problem.
Doesn't sound like rocket science to me.
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And let there be no mistake, in my neighborhood the snow piles up quickly and on my narrow one-way street traffic backs up as soon as you stop and put your indicator on...the ONLY way to park is by launching yourself into a snowdrift and digging out later. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can stop down the road a bit, come back and dig out a spot, then return to park in it. This only works when you have someone to stand in the spot or someone else will capitalize on your handiwork.
So I got the car back, they put a used caliper in ($50) plus pads ($58) plus fluids and smallparts plaus labour ($160) plus tax, bringing the whole job to $325CAD.
Thanks again to all contributors.
blurp
On Wed, 04 Feb 2004 01:21:53 GMT, the illustrious "Spanky"

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blurp wrote:

The fact that the brake failure light comes on indicates that there's no pressure in one hydraulic circuit. Either the master cylinder is bad, or there's a leak in one line or caliper somewhere. (Or there's air in one line, not likely if no work has been done.) If both chambers in the reservoir are full, then it's air or the master cylinder. If one is empty, look for a leak.
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Thornhill (near Toronto), Ont.
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Mike, I think you've hit on it. One of the chambers in the brake fluid reservoir is empty! So this would indicate that a brake line is damaged and I'm assuming the only remedy is replacement.
Would this indicate that I'm only braking with 2 wheels? If so they're doing great: just this evening they helped me avoid a pile-up with a careless Civic, a Kompressor, and an ambulance!
No point in topping up the empty reservoir?
Thanks to all for your great suggestions.
blurp
On Fri, 30 Jan 2004 08:37:43 -0500, Mike F

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They way Volvo designed the brakes you are using half of each front wheel and one back wheel. A royal pain to bleed but as you found out this evening worth the extra work. Topping off the reservoir would only help if you had someone pump the brakes while you looked for the leak. ;) Chris V
blurp wrote:

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Can you fix a leaky brake line or does it need to be replaced? That is, is there any real benefit to trying to pinpoint the leak?
Thanks, blurp
On Sat, 31 Jan 2004 01:59:04 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@cybcon.com wrote:

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You can't safely fix a leaky brake line. The benefit of finding the leak is to see exactly which line requires replacement.
Tried it before... splicing section of line, brazing a patch on the leak... that is OK for something like an oil cooler line, but very poor and unsafe practice for a brake line.
On the bright side, brake lines come in a few standardized sizes, and a generic section, complete with fittings at both ends, should run you about $10 at an auto parts store. Line wrenches (I wouldn't try using regular crescent wrenches on brake fittings) in the right size another $10-20.
Anybody out there know what type and diameter of brake line the 240 uses?
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[ ... ]
The benefit to pinpointing the leak is to determine which piece of brake line to replace. There are several parts involved in getting from the master cylinder to the caliper.
Trying to plug a hole in a brake line isn't safe. Find the damaged part and replace it.
Gary
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Well that's great news. I figured repairing a hole in the brake line was a risky endeavor but I had simply assumed that I'd be replacing one long line...if the brake line is in sections then having to replace one leaky section sounds like the best possible situation to be in when you're strapped for cash :)
Is it safe to assume that most garages would opt for this solution or is it standard to push the replacement of the whole line. I can't actually get under the car myself at this time.
Thanks, blurp ps. never use anything but brake fluid when searching for the leak, right?
On Sat, 31 Jan 2004 15:21:58 -0000, snipped-for-privacy@hiwaay.net (Gary Heston) wrote:

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The "whole line" is really broken up into about 3 or more sections between the master cylinder and the wheels.
No, the piece that you will have to replace may be only inches long, or a few feet. IIRC, the lines from the master cylinder to the "brake failure" sensor box are about a foot long, from there more lines between 2-6 feet long go towards each wheel, but these connect to flexible lines that finally connect to the calipers. For the back wheels, there are proportioning valves between the "brake failure" box and the flexible sections. The flexible sections connect to solid sections that run along the rear axle to each back wheel.
Generic sections of solid brake line are fairly inexpensive. They are straight when you buy them, but they are actually meant to be gently bent to form.

No no, you use a lit match! Wait, that is for fuel leaks :)
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All auto brake systems have at least two sections of line per caliper or cylinder; one flexible piece which attaches to the caliper/cylinder, and one or more rigid steel pieces which go from the fender well to the master cylinder and any valves, sensors, or manifolds in between.
Some calipers are two section, so may have two flex lines and sets of rigid piping.
I'd say it's about 90% certain that you've damaged one of the flex lines to a front caliper. If you can look under the car or turn the wheels all the way over and look in from behind, you should see a lot of fluid on one. A new line kit from IPD runs $68 to $118; I'm sure there are aftermarket kits for much less.

Very few garages will want to mess with the rigid lines unless it's necessary. They rarely fail.
After you get this fixed, invest in a folding shovel so you can dig out a snowbank rather than ramming it.

Correct. Use cheap stuff of the same type in your system; the shop will flush it all out when bleeding the brakes after replacing the line.
Gary
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Wouldn't be surprised if it was one of the flexible pipes to the calipers that had got ripped. Replace with braided lines and you should be okay.
Cheers, Peter.
wrote: : >>Can you fix a leaky brake line or does it need to be replaced? That : >>is, is there any real benefit to trying to pinpoint the leak? : > [ ... ] : > : >The benefit to pinpointing the leak is to determine which piece of : >brake line to replace. There are several parts involved in getting : >from the master cylinder to the caliper. : > : >Trying to plug a hole in a brake line isn't safe. Find the damaged : >part and replace it. : > : > : >Gary :
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