The MGA With An Attitude

At 05:25 PM 3/11/03 -0600, MonteMorris wrote:
>"If the rear brake cylinders are not leaking fluid and are working properly, is there any reason to tear into them [while I'm checking out the brake shoes, replacing brake/clutch hoses, troubleshooting a non-functioning emergency brake, and replacing the brake fluid]?   If it's not broke, don't fix it?"

This depends on a few things. I try not to scare people by inflating the level of risk, but this is brakes you're talking about. This is one thing I would like not to have fail "tomorrow" (or any time forever). If it has been more than 10 years since it was last done, or the history of the car is unknown, I'd fix it.

There are many things on a car that deteriorate with time, and this is one of them. At some point in time it will likely fail, you just don't know when. When it does happen, maybe you could be lucky and it will be only a little fluid leak that will bug you until you fix it. Or there's an outside chance that it might be more serious, and maybe you wouldn't want to take the chance.

This situation takes on a little different appearance when you consider the car as a whole. The key here is what level of reliability you want. The importance of this may depend some on how much you drive the car and how important it is not to be inconvenienced on any given day (like in the middle of an endurance rally for instance). When you have a lot of small items on the car that are likely to have an occasional failure, and these are all getting to a certain age or an unknown age, then you will be having some occasional unpredictable failures around the car. The older the car is, the more these nagging little items will jump up to bite you. This is one of the better reasons for doing a full restoration, so you know for certain the time since each part of the car was serviced.

Even when you are not doing a full restoration, you can still make some sound decisions on what gets "fixed" before failure and what doesn't. I put different priorities on various parts of the car, with the highest emphasis on safety items, next in line for things that keep the car running down the road, and lowest priority for appearance accessories. Brake parts are right at the top of this list. So if you're not sure about the part, this would be a very good place to apply some effort at improving the overall reliability of your car. It is comforting to have brake parts as a known quality and age rather than an open question.

Consider this well founded quote from someone we can all respect:

"It matters not how quickly your MG accelerates, how fast it goes, or how nice it looks, if it cannot stop. The proper operation of your brakes MUST be at the top of your list of priorities. You owe this degree of safety to yourself, your passenger, and all others on the road."

John Twist
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