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1992 8v jlx (carby swb) vitara
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Hi guys, relatively new here - I've looked quite extensively but dont think I have the keywords so im posting instead go easy if its something dumb - second car 19 dont know shit.

1992 auto vit from Australia. 3 speed 8v carby 2 door no abs - has aftermarket shocks and a snorkle but thats about it - came with a haynes and dvd manual tho so thats nice.

History/context for issue:

Bought this car as a half get better at working on cars project and fun zoomer that I can go around tassie with.

When I bought I got a mech to do a wheel bearing (expensive oops shoulda done myself) and give a bit of an inspection - beyond leaks that I knew about he mentioned that my rear right brake drum was leaking.

Took it all apart and replaced leaky wheel cylinders, have spare shoes now because the old ones were very new - however they are slightly different wear amounts (I measured on paper very little difference but still some). after this i bled the back brakes system with a mate, fronts were seized and nearly rounded so I didnt do them (yet). test drove it (dumb I know but tassie back roads are dead empty) and it was just 0 pressure, straight to the floor but still braking (after about 3 meters pedal to metal).

current issue:

I've since managed to bleed the front brakes (today). Now we come to the problem: the brakes go down half way, but brake as if they are purely 'on' 'off' brakes. There is pressure in the brake lines, I don't go to the floor on the pedal, I go to the bottom of the pedal, and then the brakes brake instantly, but not before.

I think the brake booster is working as it vaccuums as I start the car and feels like its doing its job, but i could be wrong.

Interestingly, this is not the case on steep hills. Going down a steep hill there is still a short distance between puttnig pressure on brakes, and braking fully, but there is a distance not just empty space and then full brakes. This is consistent, and as ground levels out the problem gradually becomes fully pronounced.

I've looked for leaks and put cardboard under teh car - nothing. I want to put paper in the engine bay around and specificalyl under wheel cyls and stuff to see if its leaking but I havent yet.

My thoughts
  • air or leak in MC - unsure what this would feel like, but being that the highest point in the brake system is MC until it goes down a very steep hill, I tend to assume its something with that.
  • maybe booster screwed - doesnt feel like it, pedal comes in out fine, vaccuums fine
  • maybe I built the brake drums wrong - doesnt feel like it because the handbrake is fine (wrong shoe ik but still)
  • maybe a seized/broken caliper of sorts? I don't think thats the case tho they havent been touched.
when i next have time (uni plus 2 jobs one full time) I'll check further for leaks, pull apart drums and check them for suspicious activity and check calipers.

wondering if I:
  • take it to a mechanic, getting a pressure test + him to hunt it down
  • bleed another liter odd of brake fluid in hopes i pick up a clogging of line or any spare air
  • bleed the MC ?? not sure why and i assume no but still
  • rebuild back brakes
don't know what to be looking for really... really jsut asking for ideas or if im missing something relatively clear. sorry if this is abit long - its just annoying af when every other thread is literally just "brakes dont work on my unespcified geotracker"
 

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First - don't play around with the brakes - that's literally playing with death - you do NOT want to be substituting brake parts without having a good idea what you're doing.

Excessive pedal travel is typically caused by rear brakes being out of adjustment - pull the hand brake all the way up and see if that changes where the pedal stops, if it reduces travel, make sure the rear brakes are correctly assembled AND adjusted.

The intent behind bleeding is to remove trapped air. Trapped air can cause excessive pedal travel, but that excessive travel is accompanied by a "spongy" or "springy" pedal - it's either there or it's not, if it's not, there's no point to any further bleeding. Bleeding has to be done in a specific sequence, furthest to nearest, attempting to bleed the front brakes without first bleeding the rears can be done, but unless you know EXACTLY WHY you're choosing not to bleed the rears, it's not a good idea.

Booster - quick test - shut the engine off and depress the pedal fully half a dozen times, the stopping point should get higher with each press until it stabilizes, depress fully & hold the pedal and then start the engine, the pedal should drop as the engine starts, if it does, the booster is probably fine.
 
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