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HELP - Stuck in South of France - Brake Problem

Discussion in 'A4/S4 forum(B5 Chassis)' started by SlipMat, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. SlipMat
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    SlipMat New Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    Aaaaargh...

    I drove from Calais to the South of France last night (800 miles) and 2 miles from our destination I have a warning light come on.

    I have recently replaced all the discs and pads as the old ones were worn. The pads DO NOT have sensor leads in them (neither did the originals!)...

    When I stopped I also felt all the wheels and they all felt hot, because obviusly they have been working, but didnt seem excessivly hot.

    OK so the problem - a RED light with a letter P inside a circle is on and wont go out. Normally this indicates the hand brake is on - but it isnt and the light wont go out.

    I have visually inspected all the discs and pads and everything looks OK - no missing bits as far as I can tell.

    The region of France we are in has sheer drops off narrow roads which drop for 1000ft or more - so the last thing I want is a brake failure on these roads!

    Any ideas? I am hoping that it may be a faulty switch on the handbrake - but I think this light is also used to indicate a problem with the ABS system? But I am not sure.

    The brakes seem to work OK - in fact better than the old ones!

    The vehicle is an S4 quattro 1999 B5 Avant - please post any thoughts as I dont have a chance in not being ripped off by a local garage because I only speak limited French :(
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  3. Blue_Thunder
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    Blue_Thunder Active Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    I think ABS problems appear on the DIS as (!) rather than (P).

    Could be that the handbrake cable hasn't been adjusted correctly? Try driving it up to about 10-15mph, then coasting until you stop. You should be able to feel if the handbrake is touching as you'll have a slight jerk when the car comes to rest.

    Once you've done that, repeat the test, applying the handbrake when you coast to a stop. This should prove that the handbrake is still working ok.

    If everything feels fine and you are still concerned, it may be worth getting a garage to run a scan to see what it was that threw up the fault. If they use Vagcom, all the better as you'll be able to see what the code means.
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  4. Soupie69uk
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    Soupie69uk Owner

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    Yeah and try jacking up each corner to see if each wheel is spinning freely. You may notice if anything is not normal.
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  5. SlipMat
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    SlipMat New Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    Thanks Blue - the hand brake is working OK, but I havent tried a slow coast to see if its binding at all. I'll try that tomorrow when I get over the 12hr drive!! I dont think my DIS has (!) but looking in the handbook it might have (ABS) lamp which is more likely to be ABS related - but according to the book it mentions that (P) might have something to do with traction control or electronic stability errors - but I dont think my car has either of these and it does say that you get another light too!

    Tomorrow I will also jack it up and see if each wheel is free. Luckily I bought all my tools with me, so I have enough to completely strip the brakes down again if need be!

    Just one other thing - now this error light is on, will it stay on till I get it cleared with a VAGcom?
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  6. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    ABS warning does NOT show up on DIS.

    It's a seperate warning lamp, in the tacho / speedo face.
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  7. Blue_Thunder
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    Blue_Thunder Active Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    I disagree. Both the warning light and the DIS display came up when running on a Rolling Road last weekend.

    Also, both flash up if you try to scan the ABS module with a non-genuine Vagcom cable.
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  8. billybravo
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    billybravo MODERATOR

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    mine did also
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  9. SlipMat
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    SlipMat New Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    So Billy/Blue are you saying that this could be something serious rather than a minor handbrake switch problem? Annoyingly I can remember if it was on when I took over driving from my wife or if it came on whilst I was driving - that would pretty much answer if it is a problem with the switch rather than the brake system itself.
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  10. 3.2 Ju
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    3.2 Ju Well-Known Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    Have you checked the brake fluid level, as the brake pads wear, the level drops and throws a warning light!
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  11. Blue_Thunder
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    Blue_Thunder Active Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]

    No, simply saying that you can get a (!) in the DIS when you have an ABS fault. You got a (P), so i'd guess yours is probably due to something else, ie: handbrake or sensor.

    Only mentioned it because i'd seen (!) on my DIS and my ABS light on after the rolling road, but this is a common false alarm triggered by rolling roads due to the artificial loading. Nothing for you to worry about, just adding evidence to back up my earlier statement about getting a DIS warning for ABS.
    :faint:
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  12. SlipMat
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    SlipMat New Member

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    Thanks for the above Blue - yes, I should have said, the first thing I checked was the fluid level - it's just very slightly above max!
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  13. aragorn
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    aragorn "Stick a V8 in it!" Staff Member Moderator VCDS Map User

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    [Mar 14, 2008]
    there is no electronic fault that can actually stop the brakes working.

    If they are mechanically sound, ie have fluid and pads and no leaks they will work, the ABS system if it fails will also fail in a safe manner for obvious reasons and you can even drive the car with the ABS fuse removed without any problems

    you've already checked most of it, check the wheels arent binding by jacking each corner and spinning it and if they pass that test imo its simply an electrical gremlin like a dodgy wire to the handbrake and you'll be fine
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  14. SlipMat
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    SlipMat New Member

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    [Mar 15, 2008]
    Thanks Aragorn - thinking about it you're right... its got new pads & discs. The fluid level is just over max, which is where it ended up after I changed the discs and pads... so I'll just make sure the ABS works when its safe to do so - and if it skids at least I'll know to take extra care till I get back to the UK.

    Thanks all - when I get it sorted I'll post the outcome :)
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  15. SlipMat
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    SlipMat New Member

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    [Mar 15, 2008]
    Thanks to all for advice - I am sure that it is the handbrake switch as this morning the light went out as normal when I let the handbrake off - so I drove around and purposely never used the handbrake and the light didnt come back on at all. Then I pulled the handbrake on enough to bring the light on and you guessed it... it stayed on and now wont go off again. So I guess the only thing I need to know now is where the switch is located so I can disable or replace it.
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  16. Broken Byzan
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    Broken Byzan Photographic Moderator Staff Member Moderator VCDS Map User

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    [Mar 15, 2008]
    The switch is located under the centre console at the rear of the lever.
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