One shouldn't have to be an Olympic weightlifter to brake a small truck.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

Got a problem. In 1987 I bought a new Dodge Ram 50, their small pick-up made by Mitsubishi. I liked it well enough to buy another one in 1988 when my company bought the '87. It's the same truck except with the sport cab. Right off the bat I had trouble with the brakes. It just wouldn't stop like it was supposed to. Three trips to the dealer resulted in no improvement. It sort of felt like power brakes with the power off. Now the bigger problem. My daughter bought the truck, and being smaller than I, is having a terrible time and is afraid to drive it anymore. She took it to a brake shop and the whole system checked out OK. Everything appeared to work, but the mechanic there agreed that something is wrong. Everyone who drives it says the same thing ("they ain't right"). It's impossible to lock them up, no matter how hard you stand on the pedal. Any suggestions?

RAY: Well, Joe, I'm surprised that no one has tried replacing anything yet. It's not enough for the dealer to simply take off the wheels, inspect the brakes and say "yup, it's got pads." There are certain things you just can't tell by putting the truck on the lift.

TOM: And that's why you should go back to the dealership and ask them--in the interests of science--to do a little experimentation. Tell them to start replacing parts of your brake system--one at a time--until they find the part that's faulty. If one component doesn't make a difference, tell them to take it out and put it back on the shelf. And when they find out what's wrong with the truck, tell them you'll pay for that part and its labor.

RAY: It sounds to me like you may have diagnosed it yourself, Joe. You say it feels like power brakes without the power. So the first thing I'd suspect is the power brake booster. Have them start by testing the vacuum hose that powers the booster. If that's OK, have them replace the booster itself. If that doesn't fix it, then I'd try the proportioning valve.

TOM: Eventually, they'll find it. And this sounds like the only way they're going to do it. If they balk at the time and the expense involved in trying all these solutions, tell them it'll cost them a hell of a lot less than the law suit your going to file after your daughter rams into the back of a double-parked UPS truck.
RAY: Hey, folks. Please don't send any more self addressed stamped envelopes. My brother and I already have enough stamps to pay our utility bills for the next 50 years!

TOM: As much as we'd love to, we can't answer your letters personally. It's hard enough just READING all the mail that comes in. Keep the questions coming and we'll answer as many as we can here in the newspaper. Thanks for your understanding! 428

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