16 year old son had to have a 1988 4x4 Toyota. It has a five inch lift. The brakes were crap, so sent it to a recommended mechanic and brakes are still crap. It is like they wont bleed. They go to the floor and zero back brakes. Mechanic says due to modified lift.

I shut the truck down. Been sitting for two years. Now he is 18 and he is adamant about driving it. Wants to drive it to a friend's garage and fix it?! Momma Bear is feeling uneasy. So any suggestions or verdicts of why only near nothing front brakes (goes to the floor and barely any brake) and zero back brakes?

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    A proper lift would have addressed the breaking issue. It may be worth it to look into. I would suggest that, instead of an epic "It's my truck and I'm 18" battle, you just pay to have it towed to his friends garage. He is 18 and "can do what he wants", "needs to make his own mistakes" and all that, so you can't really say no, But driving anything with bad breaks is a deadly idea. So save some face, and keep him safe. Shell out the $150 and you pay for the tow. Make sure to tell the tow company it has break issues.
    – coteyr
    Aug 15, 2016 at 15:20
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    This will be relevant since it's been sitting for two years. Aug 15, 2016 at 17:12

5 Answers 5


Is the vehicle equipped with a brake bias valve on the rear axle? Some vehicles have a valve which adjusts the amount of rear brake balance sent to the rear brakes depending on ride height. Theory goes that, the more weight over the back axle, the lower the back end of the vehicle will sit.

This adjustment is typically achieved by a mechanical arm attached to a spring which moves with the angle of the rear suspension. When adjusting the height of a vehicle equipped with such a valve, the valve must be adjusted to prevent the rear wheels locking or receiving no braking effort.

It is conceivable that such a device could be at the maximum extent of it's travel and preventing fluid from entering the rear brake lines during bleeding. This could potentially lead to an air-lock in the hydraulic lines which could never be bled out.

I don't know if the vehicle is equipped with such a device but it would be worth investigating.

I echo the other responses on here regarding driving a vehicle with a braking malfunction. If you want to move the vehicle to a workshop, put it on a suitable trailer or on the back of a recovery truck.

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    "put it on a suitable trailer or on the back of a recovery truck." - or tow it with a rigid tow bar. Quicker than putting it on a truck for a short distance, and I assume a Toyoto 4x4 will have a suitable towing point at the front - maybe hidden behind a removable panel. If "the friend's garage" means a commercial garage, get them to recover the vehicle - that way any accidents will be on their company insurance policy, not on yours!
    – alephzero
    Aug 15, 2016 at 12:51
  • Agree with that @alephzero with the cavet that the top vehicle is something capable of towing the Toyota plus stopping for both as the Toyota would technically be an unbraked trailer. I certainly wouldn't fancy towing it with a Focus but might consider it if I has a Jeep / Land Rover available. Aug 15, 2016 at 15:09
  • Can confirm as an owner of an '88 Toyota, they do have a brake bias valve with an arm/lever from the frame to the rear axle. The stock arm would not reach with a 5" lift. The valve was likely removed and or bypassed.
    – Steve
    Aug 15, 2016 at 18:50

Firstly - NEVER drive any vehicle without fully working brakes - it is not worth the risk.

I doubt the lift is the cause, unless the brake lines were not lengthened when it was done - if they weren't, they need to be replaced with longer ones to take into account the extra height. Even if they were, check the condition of them and make sure there are no bulges or perishing.

If that doesn't help, check the condition of the master cylinder and calipers/wheel cylinders - master cylinders can fail internally and so fail to work without any obvious signs of leaks. if in doubt, replace or refurbish them...


A professional tow is clearly the most responsible option. Even if it requires serious arm-twisting. If the money's there.

But sometimes it isn't....

He could tow you—it's weird but doable for a vehicle with dead brakes to tow a vehicle with working brakes. Not safe, but safer. Pick a time with the least traffic/least possibility of kids jumping in front of you. 4am-ish.


Just put a 5 in lift on a 2013 Jeep wrangler Jk sport. When my bf and I installed the new coil springs it was necessary to drill a new hole and push the brake line back/ re-shape it to ensure enough slack is present. If there is too much strain this could cause the brakes to have a poor connection and even break due to the tension.


Checked for worn brake lines? The old pipes sometimes bulge and deform under pressure instead of pressing the brakepad.


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