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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
99 Grand caravan, rear drums. Braking is weak, front pads wearing fast, rear shoes don't seem to be wearing at all. I have bled the brakes twice [all four wheels]. Shoe adjusters and parking brake appear to work fine. The system has a proportioning valve that is not related to ride height.

Any one seen one of these fail in this way?
 

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If it stops good in reverse, it's working. Most of the braking is done by the front brakes, which are a little small for the size/weight of the van. That's why I did the 4th gen front brake/suspension swap/upgrade on my 2000 T&C. It had 175,000 miles on it when we got it, and the rear shoes were still okay (might have been replaced once?). I later had to swap out a couple of shoes for used ones as the primary shoes were wearing thin with over 200,000 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. This is surely a weak braking system. I drive the van very easy but the front pads may only last 42,000 mile and the rear 150,000? I haven't driven it lately but I'll see how well it brakes in reverse. While bleeding the brakes there appears to be no restriction of flow to the rear drums. 5 years ago I replace both wheel cylinders because they were leaking. Maybe the shoes got contaminated and they are simply well lubed. There is almost no brake dust after years of service. More work....
 

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1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3
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Thanks for the reply. This is surely a weak braking system. I drive the van very easy but the front pads may only last 42,000 mile and the rear 150,000? I haven't driven it lately but I'll see how well it brakes in reverse. While bleeding the brakes there appears to be no restriction of flow to the rear drums. 5 years ago I replace both wheel cylinders because they were leaking. Maybe the shoes got contaminated and they are simply well lubed. There is almost no brake dust after years of service. More work....
Has your braking always felt weak, or just recently? The 3rd gens do have undersized and underpowered brakes. I've read of people converting their rear drums to disc from a 4th gen.

That being said. I experienced a similar issue with my '97. I replaced master cylinder, complete rear drum assembly, and bled the crap out of all four corners. I also had very little wear on my shoes, which looked to be original.

I think with age, the hardware can start to bind up and not function perfectly as it should. Drums are an antiquated system, and they can be finicky.

First thing I'd do is check the adjustment, and that the adjuster wheel is functioning properly. It is common for the self adjusters on drums to not work right.

With wheels still on, get under the rear of van, and take off the rubber grommet below the wheel cylinder. Look inside the cutout with your flashlight, you should see the adjuster wheel. It may be covered by parking brake cable, you'll just have to get it out of your way. Stick a flathead screwdriver into the slot, and turn the adjuster until you feel a slight drag on the wheel.

You could also pull the drum off, and CAREFULLY inspect to see that the shoes are pushing out, and pulling back in. Have someone competent depress the brake pedal ever so slightly, just enough to see shoes move in and out some. I say carefully, as the shoe assembly will fly apart if they are pushed out too far. Look at adjuster wheel and it's keeper tang, just to see if it looks right.

I found that replacing my entire drum assembly, fixed my weaker than normally weak, brakes.

Also, shoe contamination is possible. Brake pads or shoes won't work well if they are soaked in oil or fluid.





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OP - The front pads wearing fast make me think the pistons in your front calipers may be getting sticky or frozen. They may not be retracting well and thus they can cause the pads to "drag" continue to have pressure on the disk.

I just replaced the front calipers on my 1999 - mainly because the rubber components that go around the mounting bolts were bad.

Evidently - over time - I'd gotten used to the braking being not so great. With fresh calipers it brakes really nice - immediate pedal response.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you search this very forum, this has been discussed many years ago with most people saying the brakes of this vehicle are very weak and a few said the brakes were very good. I have replaced the pads and front rotors and the calipers slide well on their pins and everything is well lubed. Wear is even of the front pads, just wearing quickly.
I just replaced the rear shoes yesterday. Have yet to drive it. Everything appeared in order and clean and functioning when I removed the drum. Very little wear. I have included a before pic.

The van brakes weakly in reverse and when moving forward. This is my fourth 3rd gen van and they all had poor brakes. I would say the booster is bad but why do the front pads wear 4 or more times faster than the rear shoes. The front pads are wagner ceramic thermal quiets, perhaps they simply don't last. The rear shoes last forever. I took a stab at the rear shoes and we see if it improves. The rear shoes may have contaminated as I replaced both rear wheel cylinders about 5 years ago.
 

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If you search this very forum, this has been discussed many years ago with most people saying the brakes of this vehicle are very weak and a few said the brakes were very good. I have replaced the pads and front rotors and the calipers slide well on their pins and everything is well lubed. Wear is even of the front pads, just wearing quickly.
I just replaced the rear shoes yesterday. Have yet to drive it. Everything appeared in order and clean and functioning when I removed the drum. Very little wear. I have included a before pic.

The van brakes weakly in reverse and when moving forward. This is my fourth 3rd gen van and they all had poor brakes. I would say the booster is bad but why do the front pads wear 4 or more times faster than the rear shoes. The front pads are wagner ceramic thermal quiets, perhaps they simply don't last. The rear shoes last forever. I took a stab at the rear shoes and we see if it improves. The rear shoes may have contaminated as I replaced both rear wheel cylinders about 5 years ago.
How many miles do you have on your van? You could replace the calipers, they do get old and wear out. Did the pistons slide in nicely when you compressed them to do pads?

How many miles are on the pads? Wagner pads are fairly decent. I've heard better things about Akebono, Raybestos, or PowerStop, just to name a few. I prefer Bendix stuff, just because I'm partial to the brand.

I have done 2 sets of pads on my van, in roughly 30k. I have also used the Wagner Ceramic TQ's, and I found they glazed my rotors. They lasted approx 20k.

Throw a new prop valve in, see if it changes anything..

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just returned from a little test drive. The brakes feel %5 stronger or at least they are in my imagination. Couple of days ago I used the parking brake for slow speed braking just to get an idea as to how they work, today I did the same thing with the new shoes and they felt much stronger than the old shoes. This is still not much braking from the rear only and it's not supposed to be.

The front brakes wear quickly, the calipers behave as they should [retracting piston goes smoothly] and the pads wear evenly. The van does not pull to one side and there is no pulsing or shaking of the brakes. The brakes are just no capable of stopping the van quickly. Even if the brakes were undersize [I believe they are], they should still be capable of locking up the tires without having to push so hard you might break the seat back.

The van is full of tools and other secured items. I'll have to remove them to do some semi violent tests of the brakes. Perhaps I can't even lock up the wheels at speed.
 

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Just returned from a little test drive. The brakes feel %5 stronger or at least they are in my imagination. Couple of days ago I used the parking brake for slow speed braking just to get an idea as to how they work, today I did the same thing with the new shoes and they felt much stronger than the old shoes. This is still not much braking from the rear only and it's not supposed to be.

The front brakes wear quickly, the calipers behave as they should [retracting piston goes smoothly] and the pads wear evenly. The van does not pull to one side and there is no pulsing or shaking of the brakes. The brakes are just no capable of stopping the van quickly. Even if the brakes were undersize [I believe they are], they should still be capable of locking up the tires without having to push so hard you might break the seat back.

The van is full of tools and other secured items. I'll have to remove them to do some semi violent tests of the brakes. Perhaps I can't even lock up the wheels at speed.
Just another thought, have you replaced your front/rear brake hoses? They could be constricted.

I've never had to lock up my brakes, but in a few panic stop situations, I did indeed have to press very hard on the pedal to stop fast.

3rd gen brakes really do suck..

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Have not replaced any hoses. I know what you are talking about as have had the problem you are referring to before. When bleeding the brakes, fluid flows easily to the rear and if the hose were falling apart inside I think the rear brakes would stick on. Much more pressure to apply the brakes than the return springs generate to reverse flow.

Past reading on this forum shows this is a common problem.
 

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Have not replaced any hoses. I know what you are talking about as have had the problem you are referring to before. When bleeding the brakes, fluid flows easily to the rear and if the hose were falling apart inside I think the rear brakes would stick on. Much more pressure to apply the brakes than the return springs generate to reverse flow.

Past reading on this forum shows this is a common problem.
Figure it out?

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No I have not and I really don't think there is an answer as it's just a poor design. I may change the front pads as the current pads are ceramic and apparently semi metallic is harder on the discs but have a higher coefficient of friction. The rotors are very smooth for their age. I don't care if semi metallic chews them up if the braking power is increased. I checked rotor size, 3rd gen vs 4th gen and they are almost identical so they should be adequate. Regardless of the rear brake material and the proportioning valve, I should be able to get the front tires howling with reasonable brake pressure so I tend to think the front brakes are a large part of the stopping problem.

Pads are supposed to have a pair of letters stamped on them indicating the friction rating both cold and hot. If my memory is correct, the ceramic pads I put on had a very high friction rating both hot and cold but they sure don't seem like it. The brake booster passes all of the simple tests like hissing when depressed and holding pressure overnight. The booster on the 4 gen is slightly larger. When driving on ice the ABS does operate but perhaps it's just the rears that are locking up. In a couple of months I'll have the opportunity to test the abs and I'll have someone watch from the side to tell me what wheels are being controlled by the abs.

Gotta get off my butt and change the front pads. When I do, I'll scuff up the rotors to remove any glazing.
 

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Problem areas of the brakes on 3rd gens are, the rear brake lines rusting out (especially by the stainless braided sections under the front door area) and the front hoses being constricted by rusting steel clamps holding those hoses to the strut.

To fix the hoses, either open up the steel clamps a little to let the hose "breathe", or replace them with 4th gen front brake hoses that have no need for that silly steel clamp that makes problems.

Check rear brake lines along inner frame rail for rust right by the stainless braided sections, and along the frame by the gas tank. The rear lines can blow in a panic stop at either location. The fix is custom made lines using Nicop tubing that won't rust.

These vans usually can't get the ABS to engage because the braking is too weak. I tried and couldn't. Then I did the 4th gen front brake upgrade. Tried another panic stop coming up to a stop light, and got the front tires to squeal! Very short squeal, but the braking force was much stronger. Love it. I never modded the rear brakes or proportioning valve at all. The rear shoes were clean, the rear hardware and pivot points were cleaned with a wire brush and sandpaper and lubed with silver antiseize, and the parking brake worked. Parking brake being used and the threads on the adjusters being free, enable the automatic rear brake adjusters to do their thing (though I do adjust them through the hole in the backing plate to get that slight drag). That got rid of any excess pedal slop.

The 4th gen front rotors are the same diameter as 3rd gen, but they are THICKER and able to soak up more brake heat. You can actually use the 4th gen rotors with the 3rd gen brakes, if your pads are worn down enough to slip the brake over the rotor. The extra mass helps keep the rotors cooler and not collect braking material on the braking surfaces (which causes that warped feeling). The real difference is the front caliper piston diameter is bigger. More area in the caliper creates a larger hydraulic advantage over stock using the same master cylinder. I kept my 3rd gen brake master cylinder. The pedal travels farther, but I got used to it. It makes it easier to modulate the brakes.

I used Satisfied G6 Carbon Ceramic pads, and I liked them. They got worn down after swapping them from my 3rd gen to my 4th gen van, with all the years and miles put on them. Decided to get one of those front brake kits on Rock Auto to get the DuraGo front E3 plated rotors and whatever generic ceramic brake pads they put with it. They don't seem the same as before, a bad difference. We've used the Wagner Ceramic ThermoQuiets on the 2005 Magnum R/T we once had, and they were great on that car. Tried the Akebono ceramics on our 2011 Sienna, and not impressed with them. Have used the Autozone Duralast Gold ceramic pads on other cars we've had (and the Sienna) and they were always good.

The rear brakes should do something. The rear brakes on the 2000 locked up after sitting for half a year. Finally got a drum off, and the parking brake was stuck on. The area of the shoe where the lever attached to the parking brake cable pivots on a pin/stud on the shoe had rusted. Apparently it moves with the shoe under normal use, without using the parking brake. I had to disassemble those shoes and levers, clean all the rust away and use antiseize to lube it up before reassembly. On one shoe the stud rusted out, so I had to put a small machine bolt/washers and nuts locked together on it. Worked well after that. As long as I kept the rear brake slack to a minimum, the brakes were good.
 
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