I’m 72, and I have a 2007 Ford Focus. At unpredictable intervals, my brake pedal goes all the way to the floor. This happens in wet weather every few months. It happened again last night. I had driven for about five or six minutes, and the pedal went all the way to the floor. My car just kept rolling right along. I have learned to pump the pedal, and it corrects itself and works fine after that ... until it happens again, a few months later. The dealer says it is not happening. But it IS happening, and I’m afraid it will cause my death eventually. Do you have any idea what could be done to prevent this?
No, but you might want to tie a king-size air mattress to your front bumper until you figure it out.
Actually, I think your dealer is acting unconscionably by telling you it’s not happening — and by sending you back on the roads without attempting to fix it. Send copies of those repair orders, where he wrote that, to the executor of your will, so at least your heirs can own the dealership if this does cause your death.
But we’d rather make sure it doesn’t. So tell your dealer to start by replacing your brake master cylinder. Based on the symptoms, that’s the most likely culprit. A bad master cylinder can fail intermittently, and then regain pressure.
A stuck brake or parking brake also can cause this condition by causing your brake fluid to boil and your brakes to fail. But that’s unlikely to happen after only five or six minutes of driving, so I’d lean toward the master cylinder.
They have to try something. They can’t just let you drive around with disappearing brakes. So have the dealer put in a master cylinder, and hope that solves the problem. And if not, have them make their next best guess, whatever it is, and try another brake system component. You have to get to the bottom of this, before you end up in the package compartment of a stopped UPS truck. Good luck!
I am retiring to Mexico this year. I need to buy a new car there. Since I’ve always driven a small, compact car here in the U.S., I’d like to try something different, with more power, comfort, speed and that “je ne sais quoi.” My new-car options are either a red Honda Civic Coupe Si EXL or a silver Honda Pilot Touring with all-wheel drive. In your vast knowledge of cars, which one would you recommend for an old girl not ready to retire from having fun?
I lean toward the Pilot, for two reasons: (1) The unknown quality of the roads, and (2) it’s not red.
While there are plenty of good roads in Mexico, you don’t say precisely where you’re moving. If the roads aren’t in great condition and are full of potholes where you live (like they are in our fair city), that Civic Si, with its sportier tuning, is going to clatter your teeth all day long. So if you ignore our advice, make sure you also get an excellent Mexican dental plan.
And the Civic Si’s low ground clearance probably will cost you a couple of exhaust systems along the way. So get a plan for those, too.
The Civic Si is best on smoothly paved roads. It handles really well, but to get that “planted to the road” feeling, you give up some ride comfort. And you may want all the ride comfort you can get.
The other issue I have with it is that it’s bright red. And I think when you’re living in a foreign country — and especially if you may be perceived as “well off” by the locals — you want to blend in as much as possible so as not to make yourself a target. Driving a brand-new, sporty red car is likely to attract attention, and perhaps not the kind of attention you want.
Again, I don’t know exactly where you’re going. You may end up living in a neighborhood full of Range Rovers and Escalades. Your neighbors may feel sorry for you in your little, red Civic. But to be safe, I’d lean toward something a little less attention-grabbing.
I think the Pilot will be more comfortable if you have to navigate poorer roads. It’s also reliable and practical, with its cargo space and all-wheel drive. And silver is a color that doesn’t scream “Look at me” as much as red does.
The Pilot isn’t invisible, either, since it’s a late-model SUV. But it’s not a particularly flashy one. In fact, I don’t think of the Pilot as having very much “je ne sais quoi”; I think of it as having more “grand derriere.” Enjoy your retirement.
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