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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Everyone

New to the community! I have a 2014 LE with about 66,000km. 2.5 weeks ago I had my 64,000km service done along with a brake service. I don't have the invoice here with me at home, so I can't say everything that was covered. However, I do know for sure that the brakes were bled.

Friday afternoon, driving home from work, I experienced a total brake failure, save for the emergency brake. My route home involves highway driving, and the point at which I found out the braking system was going from "compromised" to "non existent" was a stretch where cars are typically going 100-120 km/h. For those of this familiar with the Toronto area, this was the QEW West bound approaching Oakville at the 403 on ramp. i was very fortunate that traffic was quite heavy and moving slowly, so the speed at which I became aware of my problem was maybe 20-30 km/h. Only minute earlier I had been going along with the other traffic at about 100 km/h. Managed to pull over using the emergency brake and had the car towed to the dealer where the car was originally purchased and has been serviced at. The car was put up on the hoist and we saw that the passenger rear calliper and wheel were covered in brake fluid and under the hood the reservoir was completely empty!

My guess is that the technician failed to adequately tighten that particular bleed nipple and that it gradually loosens sure to vibration over the past 2.5 week. Either that or the calliper "let loose", whatever that would entail? I haven't let the dealer touch the car since then and I have the keys. Is this negligence or has anyone else had this happen?

Not really sure what to do about the situation... Lost all faith in the dealer's service department and I'm having trouble imagining getting back in that car again, especially since my wife and I have a baby...

Aside from refunding the cost of the service and fixing the problem, what is the dealer obligated to do, both from a moral and legal standpoint? I want to be in a safe car and I'm not sure that this one fits the bill any longer. Should I be in touch with a lawyer?

Should have mentioned this was absolutely terrifying! :surprise
 

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Who originally did the brake service? If it was the dealer then the first course of action is to have them correct the problem. Their brake repair service should be covered by a warranty. Contacting a lawyer and trying to sue without first having the dealer deal with the issue probably would be a waste of time and money since the first question which would be asked would be whether you had given the dealer the chance to rectify the problem.
 

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My guess is that the technician failed to adequately tighten that particular bleed nipple and that it gradually loosens sure to vibration over the past 2.5 week. Either that or the calliper "let loose", whatever that would entail? I haven't let the dealer touch the car since then and I have the keys. Is this negligence or has anyone else had this happen?
Well you can't call it negligence if you are just guessing!

The dealer you towed your RAV to, should be able to tell you where the leak is coming from. If the bleed nipple was loose (or had fallen out) then yes that would be negligence. If the brake hose had developed a split, that might be negligence as well if the mechanic had allowed the caliper to hang by the hose when he was doing the work, but that would be hard to prove.

In any case you should let the "purchase" dealer perform the repair and give you a written report at to what the problem was. You can bring the repair bill to the "repairing" dealer to be reimbursed, or take legal action if the circumstances justify it.

Taking it to the original "brake repair" dealer may end up with a free repair, but you will not likely be told the true cause of the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The car is back at the original dealer that did the service. For me it comes down to an issue of trust. Do I trust them do do it right this time? I don't know if anyone will be able to figure out 100% what happened, and having the dealer check just how tight that bleed nipple was/is would be difficult, no? Do most people use a torque wrench on these or is it just by feel and experience? It does look as if the leak is coming from the bleed and doesn't appear to be leaking from the hoses or banjo bolts. And would they actually tell me if it wasn't tighten properly? I would tend to think no. Proving negligence would be difficult, I agree, even if all the signs may be pointing to it.

One other thing. I think that this let loose all of a sudden as everything looked quite clean as if just recently washed with the brake fluid. Am I wrong in thinking that if the leak was slow there would be some dirt and debris caught in it?
 

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I don't think that it's necessary to use a torque wrench on bleed screws since the amount torque necessary to close them properly is not measurable unless one uses a super sensitive torque wrench, which I don't know even exists. Whether the dealer will admit to their having caused the problem - that depends upon the dealer's honesty, and without knowing the dealer that is not predictable. About leakage and debris, that mostly depends upon where the vehicle was driven after the service. It is possible that there wouldn't be any debris where there is leaked brake fluid even after many kilometers of driving if that driving was done on good paved roads.

Good luck in getting the problem sorted out properly.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
IMG_7192.jpg
I don't think that it's necessary to use a torque wrench on bleed screws since the amount torque necessary to close them properly is not measurable unless one uses a super sensitive torque wrench, which I don't know even exists. Whether the dealer will admit to their having caused the problem - that depends upon the dealer's honesty, and without knowing the dealer that is not predictable. About leakage and debris, that mostly depends upon where the vehicle was driven after the service. It is possible that there wouldn't be any debris where there is leaked brake fluid even after many kilometers of driving if that driving was done on good paved roads.

Good luck in getting the problem sorted out properly.
I don't know if this translates in the photo, but to me it looks as if the leak came for the nipple and dripped down rather quickly? Would I be remiss in asking that the calliper is changed and that over the night a load test is put on the brake system?

By the way, thanks for weighing in on this!
 

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It's not really clear from your photo as to where the leak originated. But with a leak that large it shouldn't be difficult for a mechanic to find.

As Blogson mentioned, it doesn't take a lot of torque on these nipples before the flow is stopped. In fact you can stop the flow by tightening them with your fingers, although I use a socket to apply another 1/8 turn to make sure they don't vibrate loose.

If you had lost that much fluid through the nipple, you should have been able to rotate it easily with your fingers.

I wonder if someone with more knowledge than myself could explain why the front brakes didn't stop the vehicle?. I no longer have a RAV4, but aren't the front and rear systems independent of each other, and a divider in the master cylinder would keep a leak in one system from draining the other?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here's an image of the reservoir. I didn't take the cap off, but it looks empty to me. I don't know if the front and rear are independent of each other. I didn't try and rotate it so I can't say if it was loose or not. Going to the dealer tomorrow to hopefully see what the problem is/was.
 

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Back in the old days, before master cylinders were made from plastic, this is what they looked like. You can see that the front and rear brake systems each had their own reservoir. The larger chamber was for the front brakes because the fluid level would drop with normal wear of the front pads. Having separate compartments should have kept your front brakes working when your rear brake developed a leak (for whatever reason).

I haven't looked closely at the new plastic models because they all seem to have a small screw on cap that doesn't offer a good view of the internals.



Edit:

It looks like the RAV4 does have 2 compartments, but they are probably not easily visible under the hood.

 

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Agree with Ricii's comments in Post #7 - modern car braking systems are supposed to be designed so that if there is a leak such as you have had there still should have been brakes on two wheels. It at least used to be so that if one part of the system failed there would still be brakes on one front wheel and the rear wheel on the opposite side. I just pulled the cap on my RAV's plastic master cylinder brake fluid reservoir and it seems to appear that it has two chambers, analogous to the illustration in Ricki's Post #9, but with the plastic reservoir's design it is difficult to see any individual chambers when the system's brake fluid is full.

Also agree with Ricki's observation that from the pics it is difficult to tell where the leak is. But rather preliminarily the fluid doesn't seem to be coming from the bleed screw socket.
 
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If that's the case, I wonder why I lost the braking? The brake warning light was on and the pedal went all the way to the floor. But while I was waiting for the tow, I tried the pedal - once or twice it felt mechanical, almost like a clutch pedal - moments later it would go to the floor. I wish I had a clearer memory of it, but I was too wired/panicky after getting the car off the road.
 

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If that's the case, I wonder why I lost the braking? The brake warning light was on and the pedal went all the way to the floor
Hopefully the dealership can answer that question, and now you know that you should ask it. Hopefully they didn't leave something loose on the front brakes as well!

It would be normal for the pedal to travel further than normal under these conditions. Anyone who has bled their own brakes knows to expect the pedal to drop when the bleeder is opened. But still, if the front brakes were working, and since the front brakes do 75+% of the braking, I would have expected you to be able to stop with only a "slight" feeling of panic.

Be sure to let us know the final outcome because the behavior of the vehicle under these conditions is only something I have read about.
 

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As we mentioned, you should have still had braking on two wheels despite the leak. As you noted, what your experienced was clearly a potentially dangerous situation. If there is a provincial or national safety defect authority in Canada, suggest that you report the incident to them. Also suggest that you report it to Toyota Canada.
 
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While trying to stop from maybe 20 km/h, the pedal was to the floor and not much if anything was happening - I think the emergency brake did most of the work. When the car was up on the hoist, we only saw the one calliper leak, but didn't check out anything further up towards the master cylinder. I did a very quick google and didn't see any situation similar to mine, so maybe I've just been unlucky. Will definitely report to Toyota Canada once I find out more. If I find out more!
 

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OK - went to the dealer. The service manager said that they were at fault and the bleed nipple was in fact loose. He said that the master cylinder effectively has only one chamber so when the fluid leaks out, both the front and year are affected. Said there aren't separate chambers because of ABS.
 

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Well if you wanted to sue you needed to crash the car. What do you sue for now, brown underwear?
They admitted fault, more than I suspected they would. I'd have them do the repair and get on with life as you just dodged a major bullet with that dumb azz dealer error.
 

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OK - went to the dealer. The service manager said that they were at fault and the bleed nipple was in fact loose. He said that the master cylinder effectively has only one chamber so when the fluid leaks out, both the front and year are affected. Said there aren't separate chambers because of ABS.
Thanks for letting us know. Good to hear that the dealer admitted fault and has fixed the problem. The info about the master cylinder having only one chamber is new for me, ABS or no ABS. That makes the problem which you experienced potentially dangerous (good that you were able to use the parking brake), whereas if RAVs had two independent systems you would only have had somewhat diminished braking because of the leak. Now hopefully you can enjoy your RAV again!
 

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I appreciated their honesty. I was concerned that they wouldn't own up to their mistake and label the failure a mystery. Knowing the source of the problem should hopefully restore my confidence in the car.
 

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Sounds odd. First, there should be a low fluid warning light way before you've gone dry. Second, there should be plenty of fluid to stop the car in the secondary circuit even with an open bleeder on the primary. That hose looks upside down, I'll have to check my car.
 

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Did they replace the emergency brake pad? That pad is not as thick as the other brake pads.
I would have expected your brake pads to be close to 100% before this event.
At least, have them check it out.
 
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