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Old 5th March 2010, 17:32   #1
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Unhappy Punto Active brake issue

My new Punto Active 1.2 has been a dream so far. It is my first experience behind the wheels and has really really great!

I started to drive around in the neighbourhood during late evenings and slowly slowly migrated to city traffic. Yesterday, I just finished a short-trip to Vellore from Chennai (150km approx. one way) and feeling much confident as a driver.

Now comes the issue part. During my initial days of struggling I found that during lower speeds (typically first and second gears) in heavy traffic the brake suddenly becomes rigid. Try pressing it and it doesnt budge a bit. Try pumping it, nope, nothing. Finally depress the clutch fully, reduce the speed to near zero and try again it shows signs of stopping not definitely braking. All this in a brand new Punto out of the showroom within first 2 months!

Once as an elderely woman chose to trust my driving ability and started to walk across the road and the brakes desert me! Through jitters and nerves I had the sense to reduce the speed and pull the hand brake!
The issue never really worsened than this again, but occured randomly but at slow speeds!

Come first service. I religiously followed the 90 days calender and took the car to Concorde Motors, Ambattur. The service experience was OK. The service executive took my complaint and while delivering he said
"the fluids in the brake assembly was not properly flooded and we have corrected it now sir. You wont get any problem". I promptly made a call to Fiat and asked the reason and they said "IT happens sometimes sir, we are very sorry!"

Not really convinced I tried finding similar problems in T-BHP and google and couldnt come up with anything that I can relate to. I, then began to believe that the executive was right and I should be happy!

Yesterday, I again faced this issue and the brakes are now not as responsive as they used to be. I have to stamp consiously now to stop the car to halt. Planning to take the car back to Concorde tomorrow as there is also a Fiat free checkup arranged!

I am not really sure whether this issue is due to the car or because of my overly-concious clutch handling. ( I observed that, I press the clutch completely to change gears and control speed within city by pressing the clutch). I realize this is a bad habit, coming from my biking experience!

I need suggestion on what cud be wrong with the brake, my driving or minor issues in brake assembly orrrrrrrr is it something real bad?
Help!

Rgds,
Bala
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Old 5th March 2010, 18:27   #2
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Braking is not generally an issue on modern cars- they stop when needed with the weakest link being the thin stone-hard tyres - if at all.

You should probably ask a friend who drives a Punto to validate your car's braking problem and then write to Fiat direct to send their engineer onsite if the problem is validated.
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Old 5th March 2010, 19:01   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iamcarnovice View Post
I am not really sure whether this issue is due to the car or because of my overly-concious clutch handling. ( I observed that, I press the clutch completely to change gears and control speed within city by pressing the clutch). I realize this is a bad habit, coming from my biking experience!
Pressing the clutch to control speed? You mean you disengage the gear to control speed without pressing the gear, or do you downshift to control speed. If its the former, I believe thats not a good idea - it tends to overload your brakes. If its downshifting, then fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iamcarnovice View Post
I need suggestion on what cud be wrong with the brake, my driving or minor issues in brake assembly orrrrrrrr is it something real bad?
Help!
I think you need to get behind FIAT on this issue - get them check your car completely. I drive a 1.3 MJD Emotion - its been more than two months since she hit the road, and about 5400 kms on the ODO - Honestly, I've never faced a problem with her brakes. (I do more of engine braking than riding the brake) - she just glides down comfortably from 120kmph to 40 kmph in no time.
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Old 5th March 2010, 19:31   #4
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@theMAG: Yeah! Need to someone who drives Punto around here! Bought the car solely in my own discretion and friends will first pitch in with "I told you so". Let me see

@BinaiI don't disengage the gear at any point of time until I am in a complete halt.
As mentioned, I see this issue only in lower speeds/ bumper to bumper traffic.
Bringing her down to 40 from 80-100 was not an issue at all.

Earlier the service executive said that there was "some" air in the brake fluid chamber of the brake assembly. He also said he "corrected" it. Will that cause the brake to get locked or jammed?
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Old 5th March 2010, 23:13   #5
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after reading your query i just remembered that my santro had similar problem when sometimes it felt as if it lost all its power assistance to brake. I had bought a santro ls in 1999, as all of u know it had power assisted brakes. one day around 2 yrs and 20k kms the brake paddle became hard as if there was not power assistance from the engine and it felt similar to my FIL 800 brakes. and this would happen randomly making it even more riskier as most of the times it performed normally and then suddenly brakes would be hard once in a while. i took the car for 5-6 times to service center and they would "bleed" it saying that theres air in lines. but the problem never went away. in fact the problem laid with "brake Cylinder" (i think thats what it called, it's a big round thing in engine bay towards the driver side, where the lines from pedal and to lines tyre meet and it modulates power assistance from engine)

finally after much deliberations and I had it changed at cost of 5-6k as company service said that it's repair is complicated and not recommended and problem was solved.

i would suggest u to take up matter with company seriously and get this thing changed or at least checked as i know how dangerous it can be.

PS if anyone knows right terminology for this part pl correct
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Old 5th March 2010, 23:40   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iamcarnovice View Post
@theMAG: Yeah! Need to someone who drives Punto around here! Bought the car solely in my own discretion and friends will first pitch in with "I told you so". Let me see

@BinaiI don't disengage the gear at any point of time until I am in a complete halt.
As mentioned, I see this issue only in lower speeds/ bumper to bumper traffic.
Bringing her down to 40 from 80-100 was not an issue at all.

Earlier the service executive said that there was "some" air in the brake fluid chamber of the brake assembly. He also said he "corrected" it. Will that cause the brake to get locked or jammed?
Maybe there is some problem with the brake lines which is causing air bubbles in the fluid. Another reason might be due to brake booster not working properly (ever pumped brakes when a car is parked without engine running? after couple of pumps the brake becomes rock hard - impossible to press)
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Old 6th March 2010, 00:28   #7
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I have the exact same problem in my Linea (since beginning).
Initially I thought it was due to riding the clutch. But now I have found the right circumstance:
In bumper-to-bumper traffic at verrry slow speeds (constant on-off of brake pedal), the brake suddenly becomes hard. But antidote is: press the clutch and it frees up instantly.

I thought since it's between clutch+brake ,maybe the the Clutch slave cylinder replacement will fix it, BUT I experienced it once even after clutch cylinder replacement.

Will ask tomorrow during the fiat service camp (maybe the fiat guys might have an answer).
I am relieved that there is someone else who shares the same problem!
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Old 6th March 2010, 09:14   #8
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Iamcarnovice, Brakes going hard in in a brake booster (round black thingy under the hood next to where you fill brake fluid) equipped vehicle means that the brake booster is not working properly.

Why doesn't the brake booster work properly?
1) Either the unit is faulty.
or
2) The booster isn't getting vacuum from the intake manifold (or a vacuum pump in a Diesel car).

Brake will work even if the booster doesn't but it will make pressing the pedals tougher you will have to stomp on it like you said you had to do couple of times.

Air in the brake line will not make the pedal go hard; instead it creates a spongy feeling i.e., the pedal goes down but the brake bite isn't effective.

So get the brake booster checked when you go next time.
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Old 6th March 2010, 09:18   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sankar View Post
Iamcarnovice, Brakes going hard in in a brake booster (round black thingy under the hood next to where you fill brake fluid) equipped vehicle means that the brake booster is not working properly.

Why doesn't the brake booster work properly?
1) Either the unit is faulty.
or
2) The booster isn't getting vacuum from the intake manifold (or a vacuum pump in a Diesel car).

Brake will work even if the booster doesn't but it will make pressing the pedals tougher you will have to stomp on it like you said you had to do couple of times.

Air in the brake line will not make the pedal go hard; instead it creates a spongy feeling i.e., the pedal goes down but the brake bite isn't effective.

So get the brake booster checked when you go next time.

Bang on. In fact a very precise answer.

OT: In the days of the Maruti 800, Padmini etc, one had to "bleed" the air bubbles out from the brake lines (this happened more often if the master cylinder rubber parts were old).

Definitely get the brake booster checked and don't take any spiel from the mechanics if they say they "flushed"/"bled" the system.
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Old 6th March 2010, 17:36   #10
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yes my brake booster was faulty and i got it replaced, with me the problem happened any time even during high speed drives not just bumper to bumper traffic.
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Old 7th March 2010, 10:16   #11
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@Iamcar,

Any updates from your side?

I asked the Fiat guys at the service camp and they said they never heard of such a problem. Also they said the behavior is normal as when you press brake pedal continously 3-4 times, the vacuum or something gets exhausted and brake becomes hard. You need to leave the brake pedal alone for the vacuum to reset.

They blamed on my driving habits that I am not supposed to use brake like that in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I am confused.
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Old 7th March 2010, 10:49   #12
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This is true if you are novice and nurvous driver and tend to jump on the brake or keep on pressing a liitle in anticipation that car in front might stop suddenly but it does not, in bumper to bumper traffic means your pumping bit by bit makes brake harder because vacuum gets exhausted and brake becomes harder.
I think you should give some seconds in between braking and keep little distance from the car in front for ease.
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Old 8th March 2010, 08:47   #13
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Was down with fever and sorry for not replying.

FIAT called me in this Saturday for a check-up (a free check-up camp called "FIAT first") and when I took my complaint to them they said, "sir, we are doing the regular check-ups only. Any complaints will be taken on Monday".

This effectively left my problem unsolved. Will have to take it to them again sometime this week.

blackasta,Sankar,Amartya,drsnt: Thanks for suggesting on the brake booster. Will have it checked.

backasta: (ever pumped brakes when a car is parked without engine running? after couple of pumps the brake becomes rock hard - impossible to press)
Exactly! Similar feel. But as neotraveller suggested, there is "some" respite when I release the clutch, brake and accelerator and try applying again.
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Old 8th March 2010, 10:25   #14
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Car brakes will become hard in nearly all booster brakes when applied again and again as the vaccum will diminish.To get back just use the acc a bit to get the vaccum level up again in brake booster. This is a totally normal part of booster brakes.
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Old 8th March 2010, 10:52   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacksons View Post
...means your pumping bit by bit makes brake harder because vacuum gets exhausted and brake becomes harder.
I think you should give some seconds in between braking and keep little distance from the car in front for ease.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trust_In_Thrust View Post
...To get back just use the acc a bit to get the vaccum level up again in brake booster. This is a totally normal part of booster brakes.
Thanks a ton jacksons and Trust_In_Thrust for the suggestions. Will definitely keep this in mind next time around. For a lasting peace of mind will however get the brakes (booster) examined by FIAT as well.
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