Chevy S10 - GMC S15 and Sonoma Brake Problems

gearyrgearyr Member Posts: 2
I have a 1989 S15 pickup. 4.3 V6 auto with 270,000 miles on it. The red brake light has been on now for 2 weeks. I replaced the front pads not the problem. I had to stop real quick the other day. The truck is pulling to drivers side. I don't know if it is the caliper or brake line. Both are oem and has been on the truck from the factory. Also, I have not replaced the back brakes. I am going to check them this week end. The brake fluid is full in the master cyclinder. Don't know why the brake light is staying on.


  • hoodlatchhoodlatch Mid-westMember Posts: 255
    I had a similar problem on my 92 S-10 some time back. To make a long story short, to fix the brake light thing I had to replace the ABS Modulator Valve ($200. Advance Auto). I couldn’t tell any difference in brake performance before or after, except the little red light wasn’t burning anymore. If I had to do again I would be tempted to put electrical tape over the light cover or take the bulb out.

    As I understand it, on my model of truck, the ABS modulator doesn’t stop the front wheels from locking up. It is designed to help equalize the braking energy between the front disk brakes and the rear drum brakes. I guess this is to help maintain stability in hard braking (like when that silver haired lady backs her car out in front of you). However, on most all rigs that I’ve worked on with front disk and rear drum, the front brakes do all the work and the rear brakes are just along for the ride (except provider of parking brake).

    In my case I started with replacing the pads, then the calipers, then the hoses, then the master cylinder, flushed brake lines, then modulator valve. Off and on I worked on the thing a few days. Back shoes and wheel cylinders were good otherwise I would have replaced them also. When I got done I had some very good brakes and a lightened pocket book. It’s an old truck but I plan on keeping it forever. At least that is what I keep telling my self to justify the ongoing expenditures.

    Good luck with yours. :shades:
  • ltrammsteinltrammstein Member Posts: 1
    i have a 02 S-10 pickup with the same engine, i had a problem with my brakes veering to the left, i had shot calipers and had to bleed my brake line, replaced pads calipers and rotors, it drives nicely now, as for the light, i agree with the electrical tape.
  • philscbxphilscbx Member Posts: 33
    People make the wrong assumption on braking functions.

    1] Of course the easy ones are when it's pulling to one side is always 99 out of 100 bad calipers with corrosion on pistons that now won't respond evenly at the same time.

    2] Pushing back pistons is the main cause of this damage to start with.
    As the pads wear, the pistons get more exposed to weather. You make no attempt at cleaning them before pushing them back, and force them past the high pressure o-ring with rust on them. Not Cool.

    3] It is true the front disc brakes do most of the work on systems with drum brakes on the rear.

    4] The reason front brakes wear out even faster than normal is no one is checking the rear brakes for fit.
    Here is how the brakes function at the press of pedal.

    The first half of brake pedal travel is only for the rear brakes.
    If the rear brakes are out of adjustment, and 99% of the time are, because the auto adjusters never perform the job.

    If the rear brakes make no contact in the first half of brake pedal travel, the piston in the master cylinder shuts off that circuit and now only applies pressure to the front disc brakes which now are really doing all the work.

    You want the rear brakes to come on first to set the vehicle up in a straight line of braking before you loose all steering from skidding the front tires.

    With the rear wheels off the ground and veh in neutral, you should rotate rear wheels and see the braking take place by pulling sideways on emergency brake cable.

    You can also do this by letting vehicle roll on level surface in neutral at walking pace and apply emergency brake till you feel some braking.

    This distance you move the lever indicates how far out of adjustment rear brakes are.

    When you have all 4 wheels stopping you, you will notice increased power of stopping.

    Here's another sample of test of what the brakes should be.
    Set the emergency brake to where you just feel it working at rolling walking pace.
    Back it off one click so the vehicle rolls free.

    Now do a full on brake pedal test of locking them up at 10 miles an hour.
    Notice the huge difference?
    Now go get rear brakes adjusted.

    One more thing.
    If you let the rear shoes go too long out of adjustment. They will get out of phase with the fit against the drum. It will take up to 1000 miles and frequent adjustments to get the rear shoes to fit correctly.

    What happens is the cylinders pushing the shoes out against the drum are now only making partial contact at the top of the arc, leaving the bottom of the shoes never making contact.

    This shapes the shoes face in a egg shape and now doesn't have full contact to the drum. So if there is plenty of material left on the shoes, then this will work well for you.

    If the material is worn too far at the top of shoes, then replace them and enjoy instant power at stopping. Rear shoes are generally very cheap and very easy to replace.

    Never -Never use air hose to blow out brake dust from drum brakes.
    Always use soapy water and a paint brush to wash all parts first before removing them, and catch it all with a paint tray. Process it correctly or you'll end up drinking it in the end.

    Now after they are washed, then use air to dry off or don't bother. You will now be able to handle parts with out the mess.

    One other thing.
    Ever notice how many people complain of shuttering vibration of applying brakes at the front disc's and feel it in the pedal? And steering wheel?

    Welcome to the over heated Hot Spotted Discs Syndrome.
    The cast Iron discs can get so hot on panic stops when only the fronts function that it creates hardened swelled spots that now are raised dots on the disc face that bump into the pads, which then transmits this hit against the fluid, and back to the pedal to your foot.

    These spots are so hard, that the machines used to turn the rotor true also bounce off these spots. Yep, they are now junk.

    So adjust those rear brakes and you won't have these issues.

    What's really surprising,,, Seeing New Cars and SUV's still coming out with rear drum brakes. I simply walk away when I look through the rear wheel and see this.

    I was a potential buyer, but not with 100 year old brake technology.
    That simply means the rest of the vehicle is not up to my standards.

    My 98 Isuzu 4x4 V6 Amigo have 4 wheel disc brakes.
    2007 brand new RangeRover, the smaller one, Drum Brakes.

    BMW, and many others would never pull this [non-permissible content removed].
    Pay attention out there.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Long post but not much good information. Rear disc are not needed, rear shoes last over 100 K. If too much braking on rear it will swap ends in a second.
    Ever wonder how they do a emergency 180, rear brakes only.
    Disc on rear are put on for people like you, if good for the front it must be good for the rear.
  • philscbxphilscbx Member Posts: 33
    The information is for the professional crowd.
    78% of all vehicles on the road still use drum brakes.
    The information is for those with them to take advantage of 4 wheel brakes vs only 2 wheel brakes.

    All brake systems regardless of design are made to function with 4 wheel brakes on every car, pickup, etc

    Now add to the equation, 40 ton semi's.
    I do these as well, for 35 years. If these brake shoes are not adjusted every week, they get so out of phase that the anti skid will not work.

    Auto adjusters have advanced further on these than the auto market.

    You will fail inspection at the drop of a hat if they do not work properly, and maybe make final contact with that object.

    This isn't rocket science.
    There is no,,, what you claim as too much rear braking.

    By default, it's never enough because of wear and no one checking.
    This is too only make those aware WHY the [non-permissible content removed] doesn't work properly.

    Rear braking is all preset at the master cylinder and a floating load sensor that sees how far the rear is loaded down on it's suspension.

    It's not very smart to discount details that benefit people of what can be confirmed by any brake system engineer.

    Your welcome to take the entire post to any brake specialist that does high performance braking systems vs Junk Yard Dogs that care less if there were any brakes.

    Maybe your style of high tech is a stick out the hole in the floor against the tire. Gotta start somewhere I guess. Some started this bare foot.

    Take 100 cars or trucks with 50,000 miles on them, with drum brakes, and hit the brakes to lock them up at even 30 mph in the dirt.

    I'll bet you 5g's only the front make a skid mark. That's 2 wheel Brakes Captain, and is the whole point.

    It might be winded to a point, but 89% of the people on here do not do brake systems as a paying profession. People that have no clue how or why stuff works can't get the information, because they no idea what to look for.

    Just like you wanting to know about a lobotomy, where would you start?

    Everyone knows what it's like towing a trailer with brakes vs no brakes.
    That's the main difference.
    He who stops first wins.
  • philscbxphilscbx Member Posts: 33
    The advantages so out perform 2 disc vs 4 disc.

    1] Never have to adjust disc brakes ever.
    2] They always work
    3] They are self cleaning
    4] They are used more and more from Semi's on down, because it's flat out safer, less maintenance,
    5] All aircraft use them from the heavies at 450,000 lbs , to small single place.
    5] My Sonoma has 4 wheel disc, it's flawless. All high performance machinery has disc brakes. It's Retarded to use drum brakes from 100 year old designs.
    6] Drum brakes can get wet and will never even slow you down with both feet on the pedal. That's why people died. That's how insane it is to use them still.
    7] The only reason they still use them on the rear is it's base cost is about $10. There is no other reason.

    8] You could survey 30,000 brake shops across the US to Holland, and not one person is going to argue the facts about 4 wheel disc brakes vs drum brake combos.

    9] If you still disagree in some minor way, go for it. Let's see a You-Tube skid test of one vs the other. 100 w/drum, 100 w/disc.
    Good luck..

    Maybe F1 Racing should go back to drum.
    Stop at any Motorcycle shop. What's on both wheels?

    I think the General Public will have a better idea now when they get a little taste of reality.

    Sorta like someone discovering, and tells you not to eat the Yellow Snow.

    You end up thanking them in the end, even if you didn't believe him at first.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Rear brakes have self adjusters, it has been over 40 years since I have needed to adjust rear brakes. My 99 Sonoma 53 K, never have adjusted the rear, same pads and shoes.
    Have rear disc on my car, pads are half the size and half the thickness, why, they don't want you too swap ends. I will admit they look cool, LOL.
  • chris112chris112 Member Posts: 1
    i have a 1993 gmc sonoma brakes are!
  • smitty24smitty24 Member Posts: 7
    Front passenger brake will not release like it should. It makes the truck drag and the rotor and pads run real hot. Also, when I changed the calipers and pads and bled the brakes, I had low flow out of the bleeder. I have better flow out of the drivers side. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks...
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Sounds like bad hose. If wheel rotates easy after opening bleeder, you need a new hose.
  • sdrawkcabsdrawkcab Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 s-10 w/ front disc brakes & rear drum brakes. Recently, I have noticed a vibration about half the time when I brake. I checked the front brakes, and they showed almost completely even wear. My dad thought it might be the ABS system rapidly switching from brake to brake, but it shouldn't provide a noticeable vibration like that. Any suggestions for what might be the problem?
  • jendelmanjendelman Member Posts: 1
    I have the same vehicle (1990 GMC S15) with exactly the same symptoms, passenger caliper was slow to release, changed both calipers and found lower flow on the passenger side then the drivers side. Did your situation turn out to be a clogged line?
  • pilsner1pilsner1 Member Posts: 2
    92 GMC Sonoma 4x4 automatic v6 front wheel starts squeaking when driving on hills. Stops when the brakes are applied.
    I took the caps off of wheel and the inside is rusty. Do I just apply grease to it? If so what is a good method. Do you have to remove the tire first?
  • pilsner1pilsner1 Member Posts: 2
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Check your brakes first, the wear indicator squeaks when touching and stops when brakes applied.
  • bowtiedadbowtiedad Member Posts: 1
    i have a 98 s10 and am replaceing the brake line on the left side that goes from the front left wheel to the rear left wheel how much line do i need the parts house said they only have 60in lengths at the longest i only need about 95 in how do i splice the two together
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Hard to read. If you need 95 inches, connect 2 60 inch with a union.
  • howfwhowfw Member Posts: 1
    Just did mine. I bought 25 foot roll. Got a double lip flare tool and used my old fittings. It looks like it takes about 17 feet. Bleed system. Afterwards I had very little pedal because of air in the ABS module. They recomend taking it to a shop. I followed a persons directions about driving at 15 mph and slaming on the brakes because I had a little stoping. This activates the ABS to move the air. Use parking lot not the road. Then a rebleed is required. Repeat as needed.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Gravel will activate ABS real easy.
  • jwebb64jwebb64 Member Posts: 3
    changed lower ball joint and inner tie rod on my 2002 sonoma now at around 5 to 10 miles a hourwhen i hit my brakes sounds like pump kicks on how do i reset the abs any help would be nice thanks in advance
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    You knocked your sensor out of wack, set the gap same as the other side.
  • jwebb64jwebb64 Member Posts: 3
    how do i go.about setting them the same.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    It's mounted on a bracket, bend bracket.
    At one time there was a TSB on the sensor, rust under the bracket it threw out of line.
  • jwebb64jwebb64 Member Posts: 3
    ok thanks for the help.
  • vanhagarvanhagar Member Posts: 2
    My abs light keeps coming on, and when it's on the abs brakes don't work . A mechanic replaced the pump with a used one ,same thing happing . He thinks used pump had same problem . Has anyone had this problem ? I think it's a relay or something that would malfunction when it get warm .Any help would be great !
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    google for aftermarket rebuilders, I know there are some.
  • vanhagarvanhagar Member Posts: 2
  • chrome35chrome35 Member Posts: 3
    try bleeding the brakes
  • 29fordcoupe29fordcoupe Member Posts: 2
    Thought it was a great post.
  • 29fordcoupe29fordcoupe Member Posts: 2
    Thought it was a great post.
  • dickaloodickaloo Member Posts: 2
    as I slow down and am braking everything is OK until I get to about 5 mph then there is a vibration in the brake pedal and the truck pulls to the left. As I get close to stopping completely, it then stops and normal braking resumes. I pulled the ABS fuse and now it doesn't do it but I guess I don't have ABS now. I am guessing a sensor or the motor on the ABS...not really sure. Any Ideas out there? Bob
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    There a TSB on it. Check your front wheel sensors for corrosion under the mounting bracket.
    Basically remove the bracket sensor mount, remove corrosion, apply light coat of grease and reinstall.
  • dickaloodickaloo Member Posts: 2
    thanks I'll give that a try.
  • sdickersonsdickerson Member Posts: 1
  • camaroluver1camaroluver1 Member Posts: 1
    98 s-10 ext cab 2.2 2wdrive.I have a bad noise when you get down to 10mph or less put all new brakes on and still does trhis please help took to dealer spent 900.00 and they are clueless
  • geronamegeroname Member Posts: 1
    98 Chevy s10
    Some times when I go to hit the breaks. The Pedal will not go down, I have to jam it in or release and reapply to get them to work. It does not have a pattern when it does it. It has happened when im stopping in traffic or as I’m hitting the breaks and hit a bump or as I’m stopping at a light. Some time it feels like it pulls to the left and there is a vibration in the upper left of my dash you can hear it, sounds like where the booster is. AS it is happening I feel it grabbing a little and grinding but it just doesn’t want to go down like it is being held up. I have replaced both calipers already. Any thoughts?
  • pbaranellopbaranello Member Posts: 36
    The vibration or rattle noise is the ABS unit and on this truck if it is working properly you should not feel it or hear it.

    The other problem where the pedal is hard to push down is the Master Cylinder.

    I do not remember if both the ABS and Master are the same unit but if you have not solved this problem Get It Done ASAP.

    Soon you will find that the pedal will go from hard to push to going right to the floor which means no brakes..........................
  • pgibson354pgibson354 Member Posts: 1
    I am new to forum but need some help. I am working on a 94 sonoma that has been setting for about 3 yrs. When you push the brake pedal it goes to to its normal stopping point then slowly goes to the floor. I bled the brakes, put on a new master cylinder with no change. There are no leaks and no loss of fluid. If anybody has any suggestions I would appreciate the help. :(
  • life_life_ Member Posts: 1
    i have the same problem as some above mentioned only it grinds and pushes pedal back at me when i come to stop only, which results in a little roll instead of stopping but does stop. i can slow down with no problems unless im jamming the breaks to come to a sudden stop. i have changed the front brake pads and also checked the rear drums, all is good, only thing i can think of is ABS going out, im going to try to pull the fuse and see if the problem persists. Any other advice is always welcome.
  • dominick55dominick55 Member Posts: 1
    Check recalls... there have been two recalls on ABS system... one they replaced computer and one was a hose clamp.

    my 1994 S10 has had the entire system replaced back to the wheel cylinders and my mechanic won't warrantee the work after the 3rd time my brakes went out. good luck!
  • deathdifdeathdif Member Posts: 2
    air in the line somewhere. bleed your brakes and it should go away. if it doesn't then take a real close look at your brake lines. look for any signs of swelling or leaks.
  • deathdifdeathdif Member Posts: 2
    wrong post, sorry. easiest way i found was get a piece of wood just long enough to hold the brake pedal down after you pump it. they do however make hand held devices that claim to do the bleeding system all from the caliper. i have never personally used them however so i couldn't tell you how good/bad they are.
  • bluebandit_s10bluebandit_s10 Member Posts: 1
    im having a problem when i start to break...the first 15-20 mins of driving when i start to slow down it feels like its "jumpy" the steering wheel starts to shake i dont have trouble stopping but this was a concern to me after driving for a while it doesnt do it..i noticed i had y ac or heat on and when i turned it off it helped...another problem im having is that my enginge feels "heavy kinda" like when im stopped it wont even roll back on a hill like it usually does and it stops if im trying to move forward a little bit..if this doesnt make a whole lot of sense i can try and explain it better
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Sounds like dragging brakes, better get it checked before you burn them up.
  • shopdog97shopdog97 Member Posts: 160
    I have a friend who has a '99 S-10 2.2 engine 2WD / auto trans. He says his ABS light is always on now and wonders if it might be a sensor issue. Where would this/these sensors be located? He told me in church Sunday that he knows the ABS unit is working as he had to make a hard stop as someone cut him off the other day and he felt the brake pedal pulse as it does when the unit is working correctly. Any help you can give us on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and have a wonderful day!
  • samcro816samcro816 Member Posts: 1
    Hello all, I have a 2003 Chevy S10 LS, standard cab 4.3L. I replaced the front pads and the rear brake shoes recently. After doing the job the ABS light is now on all the time. Also when I'm braking the left rear brake wants to lock up if I'm too heavy on the peddle. Can anyone steer me in the right direction to repair this? Thanks in advance.
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