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VW MKIV-A4 TDIs (VE and PD) This is a general discussion about A4/MkIV Jetta (99.5-~2005), Golf(99.5-2006), and New Beetle(98-2006). Both VE and PD engines are covered here.

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Old September 18th, 2017, 07:24   #1
najel
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Default Dragging rear brake

Hello!
I have read that there seems to be a fairly common issue with the dragging driver's side rear brake. I think I have this issue.
I noticed a drop in FE from 48 to 45 or so. One issue I noticed was that two tires had a slow leak. The other issue is that the left rear wheel seems to drag a bit. After a drive, it felt warmer than the others, and it is noticably harder to turn by hand than the other side.
I cleaned up the caliper and greased it (pads were rusted stuck) and the pins seemed fine to me, there was plenty of grease in there. I noticed that the parking brake lever does not return all the way (maybe 1/8 inch gap between it and the stop). Pushing it manually does not make a difference. I backed up the PB cable and it is not without tension at rest, and the wheel is difficult to turn after 6 or so clicks. Still no change.
This caliper is an aftermarket unit and was replaced around 180k miles due to leaking brake fluid according to previous owner's notes (now 220 k miles on the car).
I think I will just replace the caliper with a new TRW unit (those are OEM supplier, right?). I can get those for about $60. Does this sound like a reasonable plan, or am I missing something?
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Old September 18th, 2017, 11:32   #2
JB05
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The replacement caliper I bought from Advanced Auto had seized up two years after installing it on the rear left. It took alot of PB Blaster around the rubber boot to get it to turn using the Metalnerd tool. Salt is the most likely culprit, but the wheel does spin more freely now. I don't recall why I had to change the caliper, but the right side is also a local replacement from O'reilly's. I was desperate at the time.
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Old September 18th, 2017, 14:07   #3
eldar11
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I was having this exact issue with the driver's side rear brake.

You might check your parking brake cables for cuts/corrosion, mine were in horrible condition and had been not returning when the parking brake was released. New (used) parking brake cables installed and fixed the problem!

Look at the diameter of the cable, it should be the same along the length. If it is bulged or if cuts/rust are clearly visible, they should be replaced.
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Old September 18th, 2017, 19:10   #4
wonneber
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I had to replace my cables also.
ID-Parts has the new heavier ones and also 2 return springs that clip on the caliper arm to release the tension.
Had to be the easiest upgrade I ever did.
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Old September 19th, 2017, 03:23   #5
Rembrant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by najel View Post
Hello!
I have read that there seems to be a fairly common issue with the dragging driver's side rear brake. I think I have this issue.
If they salt the roads where you live, driver's side stuff always fails before the passenger side.

I've replaced all the rear braking components, and I even had one where the rear caliper carrier was bent (I think?). The pins were moving freely, and the slides were clean, but when the caliper bolts were tightened, the caliper would bind up just a little bit. If I cracked the caliper bolts, it would move freely. I ended up replacing the carriers on both sides and all was good again.

http://www.idparts.com/rear-brake-ca...a4-p-3153.html

Good news is, all the rear braking stuff is relatively cheap. After you install a new caliper, just make sure it releases properly when the E-brake is off.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 06:01   #6
najel
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Good tip about the bracket possibly being tweaked. I will inspect the cables more closely.
Any good tips on how to determine if the caliper can really move freely? Everything is so stiff and there is such small amounts of movements, I find it hard to tell if things are working properly or not.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 06:15   #7
steve6
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Get the helper springs from the dealer to help pro long the life back there, they are $4-6 a side.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 10:40   #8
eldar11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by najel View Post
Good tip about the bracket possibly being tweaked. I will inspect the cables more closely.
Any good tips on how to determine if the caliper can really move freely? Everything is so stiff and there is such small amounts of movements, I find it hard to tell if things are working properly or not.
The caliper itself should move fairly easily. If the piston is pushed back into the caliper, the brake pads are not installed, and the parking break cable is disconnected, there should be enough clearance to push it back and forth on the pins and see how it moves.

You might not even have to compress the piston to do this (which requires a tool, it must rotate as it's compressed, your local parts store rents these tools). Put the caliper bolts back in and see how she moves!
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Old September 20th, 2017, 11:40   #9
Vandor
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I've been dealing with this issue for a while now and one thing that probably would have saved me a few hundred bucks is being able to diagnose between mechanical and hydraulic.

If you press the brake pedal and hold for 10 seconds (while the car is jacked up and on jack stands) try and rotate the rotor and see if it spins freely. If not, crack the bleeder screw and try again. If it moves freely after, it's hydraulic, if not it's mechanical. (bad caliper, stuck parking cable OR warped rotor)
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 13:52   #10
eldar11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vandor View Post
I've been dealing with this issue for a while now and one thing that probably would have saved me a few hundred bucks is being able to diagnose between mechanical and hydraulic.
If you press the brake pedal and hold for 10 seconds (while the car is jacked up and on jack stands) try and rotate the rotor and see if it spins freely. If not, crack the bleeder screw and try again. If it moves freely after, it's hydraulic, if not it's mechanical. (bad caliper, stuck parking cable OR warped rotor)
When you say press and hold, do you mean to release and then check if it spins (for clarity)?
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 14:12   #11
BobnOH
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That would have to press and hold for 10, release, check, crack...
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Old September 23rd, 2017, 18:25   #12
najel
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That's a good tip. I was just out in the garage and finally had some time to look into this. Of course as I try to crack the bleeder nipple, it shears off. So now I'm buying a new caliper anyway, since I don't want to deal with drilling and tapping this rusty POS, just to find out it's broken anyway.
I'll keep you guys updated.
Thanks for all the tips!!!
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Old October 9th, 2017, 07:28   #13
najel
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So here is the update. I replaced the caliper, and also noticed the the solid brake line going over the rear axle was looking rough (paint peeling etc), so I replaced that while I was in there. I did order the parking brake cables, but I left the old one in place just to see. This seems to have solved my problem. I got my best ever MPG tank (granted, not my typical commute route, but still).
Also replaced the brake fluid for the whole system while I was at it, though only really the side I worked on would have been necessary due to the design of the brake line (they curve so air can't get into the upstream part of the system).

Thanks for all the input again!
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Old October 10th, 2017, 19:54   #14
MRGRNJNS
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I had the exact same problem. Needed to replace the rear discs and pads every year to pass inspection. Found out the Original Factory Assembly did not include Parking Brake Cable Return Springs. Ever since installing the Parking Brake Return Springs, I have not needed to replace the Rear Brakes. That was 4 years ago!
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Old October 11th, 2017, 06:11   #15
najel
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I might still get those springs I think, just to help the mechanism out and hopefully last longer.
It does seem like this took care of maybe 80% of the problem now that I've driven for a bit. After driving, I measure that side brake disc still about 20 degrees warmer than the other side (before it was 100 degrees more). It does feel like the wheel spins a bit harder as well, but it's hard to tell for sure.
So I think I'll replace the cable, as well as the guide pins and caliper mounts.
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