View Full Version : Could use a little brake help, please ?

12-20-2007, 01:21 AM
Moved back to wonderful, frigid Connecticut recently (From Arizona) and my poor car (91 5-speed) apparently is pretty unhappy with me.

As I was leaving for work today, the power brakes just crapped out. Needless to say, I about crapped my pants...

It didn't make a whole lot of sense, as the ABS light doesn't come on, nor do I feel the pump run. I'm not really sure where to begin, as far as what to check first. I found this page, http://www.35thatr.org/Tips/ABS.htm via google but it doesn't go into what to do WHEN the ABS light is out, so I'm at a bit of a loss. The brakes still work, but they're stiff as hell and take a lot of foot pressure to stop the car. It's a little unnerving, to say the least.

I just can't afford to take the car to a dealer anymore, TO get fixed. I'm just starting to get back on my feet again, after being sidelined by a back injury a couple years ago and I need to try and get this fixed as cheaply as possible, doing the work myself. There isn't much I can't do, but knowing what to check and where to start has me worrying a lot. It's the only transportation I've got and I desperately need to keep it on the road, so I don't lose my job.

I really would appreciate any help anyone could offer at this point. I'd be eternally in your debt.


12-20-2007, 02:07 AM
how old is your brake fluid. with regular DOT 3 fluid, it will actually absorb water as it gets older and could be actually freezing up in you lines. going from warm climate to friged , it could make a difference. i'd say bleed 'em starting from the rear/passenger side, then to the rear drivers side and such working from farthest brake from the master cylinder to the closest. if it doesn't cure it completly, atleast it'll remove one more thing the shop would want to do anyway.

12-20-2007, 10:14 AM
Hi, thanks a bunch for replying.

The fluid is practically brand new. Maybe 6 months, tops. I replaced a rear caliper last year and flushed everything then. The brakes worked fine but the ABS light would come on for a second when I'd step on the brakes moderately hard. I assumed it needed a new accumulator but haven't had a chance to replace that yet. Lack of money, there.

The power assist just went out when I left for work yesterday. I got maybe 50 yards down the road from home, stepped on the brakes coming up to a red light and it was gone.

I read a little more and I believe I have to look for a relay somewhere ? I checked the fuse under the dash and it wasn't blown out. This relay is in the trunk ?

I'm an electrician (well, was until my back problems) so I can troubleshoot that but I just don't know where the stuff IS, and what to look for. I've also been sick the last few days, so if I'm missing something obvious or ask a stupid question, please forgive me. I feel lousy and I'm really beat. The brain's been in a fog and the stress level is kind of high from all this.

12-20-2007, 01:25 PM
Just came in from checking a few things out.

I took out the two relays on the passenger side firewall and popped them open to check the contacts. One, the (brown & black relay) was fairly well worn, but still making contact. The other (white & black) relay was fine.

When I put everything back together and started the car, the pedal was still hard, but what confused me was the fact that the ABS light on the dash DID come on for a second, and then go out, like it should when things are normal. No matter how many times I stepped on the pedal though, the light wouldn't come on again while the car was running.

This obviously (well, to me anyways) doesn't make sense. If there's a fault, ANY fault in the system, the dash light SHOULD come on, correct ? Is it safe to assume that since the light is still coming on when starting the car, that I can rule out the ABS control module since it seems to still be getting power and operating ?

The other thing I planned on doing was checking the pressure switch on the master cylinder itself. Unfortunately, unless I'm a little more stupid than usual, there doesn't seem to BE any way to get at the connector easily. IS there a way to get in there, without yanking the whole unit out ? I thought it looked possible if I jacked up the car, took off the wheel and pulled out the wheel well liner but I couldn't do that easily in a snow and ice covered parking lot, plus I've got to get to work in a couple hours, so I'm out of time today.

Any info or suggestions would be sincerely appreciated. I searched the site again with google, but I only keep getting the same few hits that I looked at last night. I've got to get this fixed soon for the obvious reasons, so I can get to work and back safely.

Thanks again...

12-20-2007, 01:42 PM
try moving key around like half way on or more towards start if its a bad ignition switch it should work if key is giggled around if its igntition switch its on colum below dash take it off bend prongs i tighter and it should work again

ive seen this to be the culprite on three sc's ive had

the brakes are powered thru the ignition switch like i said mine it was only bad ignition switch onone it was connector to pump had corrossion in it

12-20-2007, 03:10 PM
OK.. do a search and read up.. But until you have the chance to do so, do this:

1. Open the hood, open your driver side window.
Key-on to the run position. engine off, stereo off.

2. Do you hear the pump run and then shut off? It will sound like a
hummm that decreases slightly in pitch and then abrubtly stops.

3. pump brake pedal a few times, repeat step 2.

Let us know what you find. :cool:

12-20-2007, 04:20 PM
Man, this is a very common problem on these older SC's, lots of information out there.
First check Relay - both are good, so you should have power to the pressure switch.
Check pressure switch - there should be a wiring diagram of the pressure switch connector at the 35th aniversary registry for this one - if you jump a couple wires it should activate the pump motor. The switch is on the bottom, driver's side of the ABS unit .. 6 pin connector. About the easiest way to get to it is to take your driver's side wheel off, remove the splash guard, and use a hole saw to cut a hole in the inner fender.
If the pump motor turns on, more than likely a bad pressure switch .. if it doesnt turn on, your pump motor could be bad.

I just went through my buddy's 90 SC and had to replace the ABS pump motor, lots of fun. :D

- Dan

12-20-2007, 09:54 PM
If the anti-lock light flickers when you apply the brakes means that the accumulator is on its way out.....

12-23-2007, 12:45 AM
Hi again, sorry, work had me so worn out I haven't had time to get back here to reply to you all.

Here's where I'm at so far...

I turn the key on. Dash light comes on for a sec like normal, then goes out.

Step on the brake pedal, no pump motor sound. I could actually feel it running through the pedal before. Nothing now. Just hard pedal.

I checked the relays and they make contact enough that they *should* be working. I'll probably recheck this, since I have the next couple days off, weather permitting.

I can't see any way to get the pressure warning switch connector off, being where it is. I can't get the car up on a jack right now. Don't have a garage or anything like that. Just the small, ice/snow covered lot here where I live.

I'm going to try and put power to the pump motor wiring connector, and see if it runs directly next. Weather's supposed to be a little crappy tomorrow (sunday) so I might not even get the chance yet...

I guess if I do, and the pump runs, then it's probably the pressure switch. I didn't know about the ignition switch being part of the system, so that's something else I can check too...

Thanks for all the replies ! I really do appreciate it. You guys are a HUGE help !

I've got one other issue now, that's cropped up since I got back here to CT. The supercharger pulley/snout bearing sounds like it's going to go ballistic on me too. At first I thought it was the water pump, but now I'm pretty sure it's probably not.

Almost sounds like the screws inside are hitting against the insides of the body... I really want to get the pipe coming from the intercooler and the top elbow off there and look inside to see if that's the case, but of course, with no garage and needing the car TO get to work, etc, it might prove difficult. Also need to take some tension off the SC pulley while it's running and see if the noise eases up some. I put all new belts on recently and they're probably too tight against the pulley, making a potentially bad bearing even worse.

Stupid car really wants me to lose my damned job, I guess. God knows I can't afford to replace the supercharger.... Praying to God I'm totally wrong and it IS the water pump, but somehow I just know it'll be the worst possible thing... I'm finally starting to get back on my feet again, like I said, so it'd figure...

I really don't need this stress.... Thanks again guys. I do appreciate the help a hell of a lot.


12-23-2007, 03:34 AM
order a snoutrebuild kit its not hard to rebuild nw bearings seal and coupler will make noise go away I like this company,


12-23-2007, 03:41 AM
reason i mentioned the ignition switch is if its worn then you will get no power to brakes or intermitant power only when cranking or when turning itto on position but when you release the key the power is gone . mine did this and when i aplied presure to key like i was pulling it towards off position a little the brakes worked .

if its got power to brake unit then its not ignition circuit.

12-23-2007, 10:57 AM
SC snout rebuilds aren't that difficult to do......

As for the ABS pump motor, make some jumper wires and see if you can get the pump motor to operate......

If any work needs to be done with the ABS units, sometimes it's better to just take the whole unit out to work on it.....:mad:

The pump motor and accumulator can be removed as a unit, which makes servicing the pump motor easier.....

Having removed and replaced quite a few of these ABS units, there are some specialized tools that help with the removal of things......:rolleyes:

12-28-2007, 01:29 AM
order a snoutrebuild kit its not hard to rebuild nw bearings seal and coupler will make noise go away I like this company,


You sir, might just be my hero ! I had NO idea anybody offered those parts. Last I looked years ago, you could only get a new supercharger, or send it out to be rebuilt. This, I can afford !

I was seriously stressed out about the supercharger possibly eating itself alive, since I'm without any vehicle if that happened.

So, is there anywhere online that gives specific instructions how to rebuild the snout ? I've got a machine shop close to me, but I'm going to hazard a bet that they've never had to do something like this before. Kind of back woods, here... I'd like to get as much info as possible before I get ready to DO it, you know ?

As far as the brakes, I'm waiting for a day off, to get back on it. Need to try and put direct power to the pump motor still. Between crappy weather and work, I can't seem to catch a break lately.

And again, sorry it took me so long to get back to you all. Now that the holidays are mostly over, I'll have a little more time TO actually sit here in front of the computer.


Ohh, almost forgot. I see that website with the Eaton SC parts *looks* to be geared towards the Pontiac supercharged Grand Prix GTPs ? Are the parts a direct replacement for both Fords AND Pontiacs ? Need to make sure I get the right stuff, of course. Thanks !

12-28-2007, 11:08 AM
Ohh, almost forgot. I see that website with the Eaton SC parts *looks* to be geared towards the Pontiac supercharged Grand Prix GTPs ? Are the parts a direct replacement for both Fords AND Pontiacs ? Need to make sure I get the right stuff, of course. Thanks ! If its M90, you're good to go.

12-28-2007, 03:27 PM

I would try and replace the relay anyways. The previous owner of my 91 had it at three different shops including dealerships. He gave up the car for a song because they told him the brakes were not repairable.

When I looked at the relay, it looked good. I replaced it with a different one and 10 seconds later the car had brakes. Saved a lot of labour replacing the accumulator etc. not causing the problem.

12-31-2007, 06:54 PM
I've got wednesday off, so hopefully I can squeeze some time in, to fiddle with the brake situation.

I'll probably start with putting voltage to the pump motor, since that seems the most simple thing to do, so I can rule out a dead motor. Praying it's NOT that. Sure wish this hadn't happened now, right when winter is getting fired up, but that's Murphy for ya. :(

As far as the supercharger snout fix; If anyone can shed some light on the particulars, it'd be great. Obviously I'll need a machine shop to press in/out any bearings, but is there anything else I should know, ahead of time ?

Please, anyone who's done this, feel FREE to chime in. I'm just worried that there's some complex issues with disassembling the supercharger, etc. ie. can you JUST remove the snout from the body, while it's still on the engine ? Does the whole thing NEED to come off ? Beyond the press, do I need any specific, out of the ordinary tools ? That sort of thing...

Any sage advice you all can pass along would be terrific. I really do appreciate the replies and your time. I have a nagging feeling a paid membership here will be forthcoming. :D

White Lightning
12-31-2007, 08:08 PM
I hope anyway, John, you are in NW Ct.? where, I also am in NW Coldville. Near Torrington. an have all the books for this bad boy! including wiring and vac books and a good man is right across the border in N.Y. that has LOTS of parts cars. Ya wanna call. yer on! 860.485.5375 I'm at work 'til 10p tonight and then going home to catch little champagne buzz with the old lady but, I 'll be on the lookout for yer call. Cheers and beers, Frank H. Oh yeah, welcome to New England!!!!!!

01-03-2008, 12:43 AM
I just wanted to say that in looking for anuthing related to the SC I have seen complete superchargers on E-bay for $175 - $200. plus shipping, but the last one was in upstate NY which , if I remember right , isn't too far from NW Conn.
I am learning about my SC and it looks like it needs an accumulator, from the flashing brake and ABS lights every once in awhile... will get fixed in about 3 weeks or when I can find the thread with the remanufacturers name again... Either way.
I have seen a lot of SC parts if you just search for 'Thunderbird' parts on e-bay too.
I have found a lot of parts for my 1979 ranchero there and belive me when I tell you they don't do not make much of anything for that car!!
So you can find parts, even if you are on a budget. I mean a used Su-percharger will get the car running again. Then you will have the time to do the rebuild properly.
I did see a complete SC ABS master cyclider/ accumulator/ pump there about a week ago.
Not certain if any of this helps!

89 SC 5-speed

01-04-2008, 01:28 PM
I'm still here, sorry. :o

Hope you all had a happy and safe new years.

And Frank, I'm in Winsted. Just a hop, skip and a broken part away from you. ;) I just might take you up on that phone call. Been worn out with work and the holidays AT work. Didn't see your post till today. Sorry.

I'm actually about to go outside and poke around some, right now. It finally warmed up a tiny bit, so I figure I should do what I can. This wicked cold is beating my car to hell and back, it seems. It actually wouldn't start yesterday at the gas station and after work as well. Had to get a jumpstart in the -2 windy yuk. I guess a new battery is probably going to be in order now too.

Gotta roll with the punches, but this is really getting old fast.... It'd sure be nice if something would go right for a change.

Oh well. Off I go out into the frozen unknown. Wish me luck ! haha