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OK, my 89 Esprit has always had what I call stiff brakes. Not a lot of pedal and not very good stopping power, but I am used to it so keep a safe following distance.

Well today a lady pulled out in front of me and I tromped the brakes hard and noticed the brakes not braking evenly when very heavily applied. Kind of wiggled back and forth.

I didn't think anything about until about five minutes later the car was pulling very heavily to the right, I pulled over and smoke was billowing out of the front right (passenger) brake. I called for wrecker and sat on the road for a while.

About 30 minutes later I backed up and forward and it seemed to be fine so since I was about 10 min from home I continued on, about a block from home the whole car seemed as if the brakes were applied and again the front right brake was smoking again!..

I pulled into the garage and removed the wheel, the lug bolts were red hot and when dropped into water fizzled big time.

Since the rotor was hot I let it sit for the whole day in the garage and to my surprise this evening the rotor spun free with only a tiny bid of drag. So i guess the brakes released while sitting.

Could my brakes not be releasing properly when I let up on the brake? What causes the brakes to release? Could the heavy braking at the stoplight damaged something??

Any ideas are greatly appreciated, I do not want to damage something..
 

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Sounds like you have a brake pad hanging up. The seals in the calipers are square shouldered and distort when pressure is applied and return to normal shape when the pressure is released, the return allows the pad to withdraw from the rotor.I suspect you need a caliper rebuild. This is a seperate problem from your "crappy" brakes in general.
 

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Hey Jason,

I saw your car today, but missed you at cars and coffee.

Sounds like you may have several issues.

One to check is the vacuum at the brake booster. The vacuum pump in the 89 Esprit provides vacuum to the brake booster as well as to the dash vent controls and the exhaust back pressure valve and throttle jack.

You brakes will get very hard if the vacuum is bad. It will be much more difficult to stop from even slow speeds.

You could have a seized piston or brake caliper slides preventing the pad from releasing.

Also are you sure the beat isn't from a bad wheel bearing?

The pull and the smoke could also be from leaking brake fluid. Did you notice any liquid?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hey Jason,

I saw your car today, but missed you at cars and coffee.

Sounds like you may have several issues.

One to check is the vacuum at the brake booster. The vacuum pump in the 89 Esprit provides vacuum to the brake booster as well as to the dash vent controls and the exhaust back pressure valve and throttle jack.

You brakes will get very hard if the vacuum is bad. It will be much more difficult to stop from even slow speeds.

You could have a seized piston or brake caliper slides preventing the pad from releasing.

Also are you sure the beat isn't from a bad wheel bearing?

The pull and the smoke could also be from leaking brake fluid. Did you notice any liquid?
Thanks Travis for your help,

No fluid leak, and pretty sure its the brake and not wheel bearing, as it stopped for eight miles and didn't pull again until the brake seized, of course wheel bearings should be on my list of replacements.

I suspect the vacuum issue, as I have always had hard brakes.. and if I brake a lot, say in stop and go traffic, they get harder and harder, and once I resume speed for a while they work better.

Sorry I missed you today, I was excited to see three G Esprits in one location.. pretty rare :)

Thanks again!
Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sounds like you have a brake pad hanging up. The seals in the calipers are square shouldered and distort when pressure is applied and return to normal shape when the pressure is released, the return allows the pad to withdraw from the rotor.I suspect you need a caliper rebuild. This is a seperate problem from your "crappy" brakes in general.
As Travis stated, I bet I have a combination of caliper issues (not releasing) and vacuum issue (hard brakes)

Seems as if its time to look into a brake system over hall..

Thanks Wayne
 

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As has been suggested the sticking caliper is one issue. Doubt a bearing, they tend to make noise as they go bad and to cause that much heat they would not release after a cool down..
You said your pedal was always hard and brakes never worked that well, exactly same as my 89 SE. Mine was strictly due to crappy brakes, I could have replaced rotors and pads to get a modest improvement, but instead I got 4 pot AP Racing brakes with larger discs........Wow what a difference. Way better braking and pedal feel. Totally different car. I used to get anxious when driving fast because of the lousy brakes, but no more.

Randy
 

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Brakes

I have completely redone the brakes on my 89, and ultimately put in an upgraded system for the front. Here's what I suggest:

1. If you can afford to go to better front brakes - upgrade to a 4 pot system if you can, There are several different sources available for bolt-on upgrades.

2. If you are not completely confidant in your own ability to inspect/rebuild your front brakes have it done by a professional mechanic. If I am not mistaken your front brakes are identical to a Toyota Celica of similar vintage and you can buy rebuilt calipers for a very modest cost - not much more money than a rebuild kit itself will cost you. If your calipers are seized or you have problems with the pistons moving freely in the caliper bodies (which is what your problem sounds like) than installing new rebuilt calipers is not difficult and is by Lotus standard a bargain. There are a lot of threads on swapping out your calipers....

3. Carefully examine the rotors as well as the calipers. They may have been damaged by this recent event. Replacing the rotors is neither difficult nor expensive as well. One of the advantages of the Lotus brakes being "borrowed" from Toyota is that replacements (under the Toyota label) are readily available. If you need references for the cross-listing check Doc Hess's website. Before I ultimately upgraded my front brakes I replaced my calipers with rebuilts and replaced the rotors with new Brembos for a very modest amount of money. The key is to order them as Toyota parts.
 

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Can someone verify that the Toyota Celica front brake calipers, wheel bearings and even the rotors? Are the same as the Esprit. If so what years of Celica and Esprit coincide?
 

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While in there replace the rubber brake lines as well. If they swell up internally they can block brake fluid from returning to the master cylinder.
 

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Can someone verify that the Toyota Celica front brake calipers, wheel bearings and even the rotors? Are the same as the Esprit. If so what years of Celica and Esprit coincide?
Mark,


I always ask for 1983 Celica SUPRA brake and bearing parts. Note that the LH Esprit parts equal the RH Celica parts. No problem with fitment.

Last time I purchased rotors (about 10 years ago) the Lotus front rotors were only a couple dollars more than OE Toyota parts. (I had mine cyrogenically treated at that time).




BTW DO NOT buy cheapie pads or rotors, even for street driving. Inexpensive pads are not up to the task of stopping the Esprit. That is why the factory Ferodo pads were so expensive, they were a special compound specified for Lotu$. -eek-

Dr. Hess' Parts Substitution list is here:

Crystal Princess

If you find an unlisted substitute part, drop him a note so that the list can be updated.

:up:
 

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Jason,

I recently took off all my original 89 SE brakes (no rust or sticking), and replaced them with Brembo Race calipers and rotors. If you are in a bind and need some replacement brakes in good shape, let me know.

Look at the vacuum hoses, but also the vacuum pump is known to fail. They usually make a goose honking helicopter sound when they fail. You can get those at NAPA 64-1006 if needed.

Here's what I did with my brakes.
https://picasaweb.google.com/116113253735518541549/LotusBremboRacingBrakes
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have completely redone the brakes on my 89, and ultimately put in an upgraded system for the front. Here's what I suggest:

1. If you can afford to go to better front brakes - upgrade to a 4 pot system if you can, There are several different sources available for bolt-on upgrades.

2. If you are not completely confidant in your own ability to inspect/rebuild your front brakes have it done by a professional mechanic. If I am not mistaken your front brakes are identical to a Toyota Celica of similar vintage and you can buy rebuilt calipers for a very modest cost - not much more money than a rebuild kit itself will cost you. If your calipers are seized or you have problems with the pistons moving freely in the caliper bodies (which is what your problem sounds like) than installing new rebuilt calipers is not difficult and is by Lotus standard a bargain. There are a lot of threads on swapping out your calipers....

3. Carefully examine the rotors as well as the calipers. They may have been damaged by this recent event. Replacing the rotors is neither difficult nor expensive as well. One of the advantages of the Lotus brakes being "borrowed" from Toyota is that replacements (under the Toyota label) are readily available. If you need references for the cross-listing check Doc Hess's website. Before I ultimately upgraded my front brakes I replaced my calipers with rebuilts and replaced the rotors with new Brembos for a very modest amount of money. The key is to order them as Toyota parts.
I will look into upgrading, it seems every time I replace something on this car I try to upgrade if I can. I am pretty confident replacing brake systems. I always thought the Brembos were big bucks??? I will also do a search for changing the calipers. thanks!

While in there replace the rubber brake lines as well. If they swell up internally they can block brake fluid from returning to the master cylinder.
Roger that! Thanks

Jason,

I recently took off all my original 89 SE brakes (no rust or sticking), and replaced them with Brembo Race calipers and rotors. If you are in a bind and need some replacement brakes in good shape, let me know.

Look at the vacuum hoses, but also the vacuum pump is known to fail. They usually make a goose honking helicopter sound when they fail. You can get those at NAPA 64-1006 if needed.

Here's what I did with my brakes.
https://picasaweb.google.com/116113253735518541549/LotusBremboRacingBrakes
Travis, I read and looked through your pictures, amazing work!! I will check the vacuum pump and the booster (is there a way to test the booster? ) also can it be rebuilt or does it need to be replaced completely??

Thanks for the offer for your brakes and I might take you up on that, I would like to upgrade but its summer time and do not want the car out of commission this time of year for me to make a complete change.. Would be a better winter project, please PM your price...


Thanks again for all the advice!!


Also does anyone have a link for a 4 pot brake caliper that bolts on???

Thanks
Jason
 

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Upgraded Brakes

PNM Engineering in England sells a nice Hi Spec 4 pot upgrade that will work with 15" wheels - in the range of $1000 plus shipping. There is also a guy in Michigan selling a Hi Spec upgrade on Ebay:

Lotus Esprit Brakes Kit,Hi-Spec 4 piston calipers for 15" wheels,SBC red pads | eBay

This same guy also has some used front stock brakes for sale:

LOTUS ESPRIT FRONT BRAKE, ROTORS/ CALIPERS/LINES, OEM | eBay


The installation of the upgraded brakes is very straightforward and can be done in just a couple of hours if you are mechanically adept. I would also ditto the suggestion of upgrading the brake lines to SS. The upgrade kits usually include SS brake lines as part of the package. If you are intending to upgrade ALL the brakes lines to SS remember that there are 6 lines total - the rear brakes each have two lines while the front only has one line per caliper.
 

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If you do not flush and change your brake fluid every year it becomes acidic and attacks the caliper pistons causing them to get stuck and/or leak. You need to rebuild all of your calipers and master cylinder. If the fluid is dark and thick in the clutch reservoir too, you should flush that too. If it starts leaking you will have to rebuild the clutch master and slave cylinders also.
Your poor brakes are because one or more pistons are stuck and are not pushing on the pads. The overheated rotor is because a piston got stuck and did not retract, holding the pad against the rotor. You should also replace all of the brake hoses. Rebuilding the calipers is pretty easy if you have all of the parts and a cylinder hone. You need the seals and probably pistons if they are corroded (which is why they get stuck). Much cheaper than replacing the calipers. If the master cylinder's internal bore is corroded it is best to just replace it. Since you cooked the pads you should replace them all and the rotor you overheated needs to be checked for warpage. I would also regrease the wheel bearings. If you got things that hot you probably cooked the grease too.
David Teitelbaum
 

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I thought it appropriate to remind everyone the consequences of not flushing the brake fluid regularly. Even though this particular instance is old this is a recurring theme because many do not know how important it is to flush the brakes and clutch. Anyone driving on "poor" brakes should investigate the cause and fix it quickly, it doesn't get better with age. British cars are not like American cars, they NEVER get their brake fluid changed yet they don't seem to mind except maybe the newest ones with ABS. Rebuilding calipers is always going to be cheaper than replacing them too.
David Teitelbaum
 
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