BRAKES – What You Don't Know Can Get You Killed



Everything you need to know about emergency brakes, fluid contamination and engine braking with an automatic transmission and the ignition turned off.
A continuation of our series dissecting things that went wrong in the AutotopiaLA Mercury Comet crash.
#brakes #wreck #autotopiaLA #classiccar
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45 Comments

  1. Great video. Tony didn't really elaborate……he said that you would get a few more stops out of a dual master cylinder system. I always thought the two circuits are completely separate so how is it that you'd only get a few more?

  2. I know most schools today no longer teach drivers ed. But here's some other things we were taught. You should always as much as possible have an out. If you have to hit something and can, choose something soft. bushes, not a tree, scrub the tires along the curb or rub against guard rails if you can, if you have to hit a car, avoid head, on sideswipe it, hit off center, if you have the choice hit a car going the same direction you're going. Want to really have fun, Ask me how I know. Have the motor mount break locking the throttle wide open on a 421 Pontiac with 2 four barrels.in a Ventura. and yes I got it stopped before hitting anything.

  3. And let's not forget forgetting to take the break off and smelling brake smoke a couple times there goes the e-brake. And almost nobody fixes it when they do that.

  4. I'm not trying to nitpick, and somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. But if the brake shoes, or calipers are overheated enough to cause massive brake fade, wouldn't the e brake, which uses the same brake shoes or calipers, be just as ineffective. What am I missing here?

  5. It's weird the kind of stuff people say, like you can't downshift an automatic if the ignition is off. You'd think these people have never driven a car. When you're running out of gas, the motor is still spinning, that's why swerving side to side works to pick up that little bit of gas. When you try to restart a car that cuts off while you're still moving in gear, the starter grinds. Also, I would much rather have a dual reserve master cylinder than a single. When you've got a single wheel cylinder leaking, it can drain the whole master with the old cars. I had complete loss of brakes with a 61 Buick I used to have, because one wheel cylinder was leaking. Meanwhile with my 79 Ford truck, I had a similar issue, but I was still able to get the truck to come to a stop. Sure, if you feel anything wrong, the right thing to do would be to stop, get parts, fix whatever the problem is. But if you're 50 miles from an auto parts store and don't have anyone to come help you, some times you need to be just a little bit reckless.

  6. One of the points he kept making was "know your car." Emergencies WILL happen, and you don't have time to consult the documentation when they occur.

  7. I think, just from my own life experience so far, is that a lot of things are not understood because advertising just tells you "you need this" without the explanation as to why and when. There is no education about cars, just how to drive, if you are lucky. I need the reasons for why and when to understand things better.

  8. The auto industry has dumbed down the public to the point that anything past the gas cap and steering wheel, they are lost. Then some folks that try to tackle their own repairs, more often than not make some simple, yet catastrophic mistakes. Brakes are one of the top repairs I'm referencing.

  9. Really awesome advice! Thank you!

    I discovered in the owners manual of my parents automatic car that the transmission could only shift into a lower gear once the car had slowed down to the maximum speed for that gear.

    I tested it by selecting 1st at 100km/h, and sure enough, the transmission shifted to second straightaway and when we were down to 60km/h, it went into first. Deceleration was quite rapid I can tell you. 60km/h in first in that car was engine leaping up through the bonnet revs!!

    So I agree 100%. Learn what you can do and do it for as long as you can.

    Excellent video!

  10. SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY with a old cars. Your point is well taken. I don't understand why anyone would take a old car down the road without servicing the brake system first. Our brains have time lapses so even if the owner said he changed them … it could be 10 years ago!

    Every old car that sat for years or a barn find car I have worked on has needed virtually ALL new or rebuilt brake components: master cylinder, slave cylinders, caliper rebuilt, new shoe linings (I have seen them stuck to the drum and off the shoe), new self adjusters, and if up north new brake lines.

    FYI Tony, there was a situation with a vehicle that sat for a long time. I restored a 1967 Amphicar that sat for 20 years in a garage. The brakes felt hard but no fluid moved to the slave cylinders to move the shoes. So I disconnected the flex lines and examined them. They were not filled with crud but swollen completely shut from the old fluid being in there for 20+ years. From that point on any old car I got I would replace the flex lines even if they are not cracked. Just as a safety measure to ensure they are wide open.

    Great job on educating the public on brakes … safety is non-negotiable and can mean saving a life , if not your own!

  11. I've had fluid boil. They'd slow the car a bit with a hard stab while the pedal was moving but all the pumping in the world wasn't brining the pedal back. Parking it and letting it cool was the only thing that did that.

  12. The advantage old guys like us have, is that we grew up driving cars that were piles of crap, so we learned all this stuff, sometimes the hard way, like the driver of the Comet. Lots and Lots of factory muscle cars were crashed because engines were faster than the car was designed for, and we got in over our heads driving them, before we LEARNED how to drive them. But that was then, now 40 years later, there is a bunch of failure modes I learned as these POS got older. In the 80's we learned that brake fluid absorbed water, rots out the brake master, and slave cylinders. In the 90's we learned that the flexible brake hoses had a lifespan. You could have GREAT pedal, but only brakes on one or two wheels, because the flexible brake hoses swelled shut while the car was parked. Then in the 2000's we got to learn that China Parts are crap. It's a wonder any of us survived long enough to be making fun of the Comet driver.

  13. I've seen this scene play out a lot over the years. People spend ridiculous money on these vehicles and have no talent when it comes to handling vast amounts of power on the street. People are more worried about how beautiful the paint job is versus having the best safety equipment to keep your ride under control.

  14. Great video! Though, my understanding with the dual reservoir master cylinder is if a rear line leaked and the fluid ran out, there would be fluid in the front of the reservoir so the front brakes would still work? Would that be correct?

  15. Good explanation of what happened to the "Emergency" brake. I always wondered why cars gravitated from safe and logical handbrakes to ratchet death-tools. I'm surprised that you didn't also note that the Comet's original brakes would not have failed this way. Although drums do fade, and fade faster, it is not due to brake boiling, caused in discs by the caliper piston being directly connected to the pad generating all of the heat and typically not well-vented. The brake fade caused by riding drums would have been very obvious very early, very progressive, and more importantly not total as seen with the discs. People "upgrading" from excellent large Mopar drums to aftermarket discs really need to think a few times about what they are really doing.

  16. That’s for the information on how everything works in the stopping situation in an emergency!
    I am still trying every upgrade in my ratrod braking system!

  17. Only use ATE DOT 4 from metal cans… never use brake fluid from a plastic bottle. By the time one uses plastic bottle DOT 3 it's half done with water. Great Video!!! I have posted so many videos about never use parts store plastic bottle junk. Use any way you can to stop the water in the brake fluid. Change it every 2 years and it give you a chance to check the WHOLE system. Live are in the balance like you said…. Bobbyu

  18. You definitely added so much value to that potentially horrific crash UT. Those guys involved probably don’t realize how important their accident was, to get caught on camera. Most of us would never reveal such an accident to such a big audience, due to our pride. We all owe those two a big “thank you” for sharing that. And, of course, THANK YOU 🙏, for the great follow-up and your advice, on a topic rarely addressed anywhere. Yes, I learned a few things watching this one too. To cool 🏁

  19. I never realized you could engine brake an automatic like that, but yeah, it makes perfect sense. All my cars are sticks but who knows, I might become enfeebled in my old age and have to drive a crutch car. Thanks Tony

  20. Wait, so, originally the parking brake was intended to hold a automatic vehicle in place while running, keys in ignition, danger close?

    Or did i misunderstand?

  21. I'm only 37, but they taught us exactly that, was pull the handle up (in the foot pedal situation) and gradually push the pedal down. That would have been circa 2000

  22. I occasionally use the e brake to stop my vehicles from a low speed, to ensure that they still work right and don't get all loaded up with rust and junk such that they don't work anymore, I've driven my stick shift truck home using nothing but the e brake and downshifting, because a line had sprung a leak and I knew I only had a couple pumps of the pedal left I was saving for an emergency. I think the biggest issue in that crash and most that involve brake failure revolve around people that 1, don't know how to drive, they just hold a wheel and push pedals, and 2, don't know their vehicles, I've always believed in pushing a vehicle to its limits in a controlled environment is good, because you now know how it's going to act if something ever goes sideways. A sound mechanical understanding is also important, I know how the brakes work and how the e brake works which helps me understand how it's gonna work if I need it

  23. One of the few things thats nice about being a broke kid in the salt belt. Ya learn this time and again with rotted brake lines. Sometimes at freeway speeds, sometimes at stop signs, once in a while when you pulling up to your girlfriends trailer and the exposed hitch stops your '78 K20 from driving in the living room… not that Id know.

  24. Recently took my 1970 Mustang to a shop for leaky wheel cylinders, turned out it needed rear drums, pads, hoses, lines, rotors resurfaced, etc. there was many years of neglect on my part so it was expected.. but after seeing what could go wrong, we’ll worth the money! Great video!

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