Q I bought a used 1999 Saab 9-5 with 120,000 miles on it. The dealer told me he had the brake pads and rotors replaced. A visual inspection verifies that the pads and rotors are at full thickness, but the braking is poor, with longer stopping distances and more pedal travel and pressure than what I'd expect or consider safe. Pumping the pedal does not make any difference. I completely bled the fluid with no change, and I'm confident there is no air in the system.

What determines the stopping power of brakes? I am ready to replace the flexible portion of the brake line and install new pads and rotors from the original-equipment manufacturer.

A Before you do, try "bedding" the pads to the rotors. It's possible that the new pads have not properly seated to the surface of the rotors, which would create a loss of efficiency in braking similar to what you've described. The process is simple, but requires a few safety precautions. Find a long, lightly traveled road with an urban speed limit -- perhaps 45 miles per hour. At that speed, brake very firmly to a near-stop, then accelerate back up to 45 mph. Repeat this cycle several times until you begin to smell the acrid odor of hot brakes, or the brakes begin to fade just a bit. When this occurs, continue driving at a constant speed without using the brakes to allow the pads and rotors to cool down. Test the brakes early before the next intersection to make sure they're working properly.

It might also be worth lightly scuffing the inner and outer surfaces of the brake rotors with a sanding disc on your electric drill or sander. A fresh nondirectional finish pattern might help the pads seat to the rotors.

Bedding or seating the pads generates enough heat to boil out the excess resin that bonds the friction material together. It also mates the surface of the pads to the finish pattern of the rotors to ensure effective braking when you push the brake pedal.

If the issue isn't the pad-to-rotor interface, there might be a problem with the master cylinder. Your Saab uses a dual-circuit master cylinder that is divided diagonally. The primary hydraulic circuit operates the left front and right rear calipers, the secondary circuit operates the right front and left rear calipers. A loss or reduced pressure in either circuit would create long brake-pedal travel and reduced stopping power.

Q The door locks on our 2003 Saturn L200 do not work properly. For the first 10 to 15 minutes after locking the car, the key-fob remotes will unlock the doors, open the trunk or start the alarm. After 15 minutes, they do nothing.

The batteries in the key fobs are good, and both units work in exactly the same way. As soon as the door or trunk is opened using the key, the key fob remotes will start to work again. Also, the doors no longer automatically lock when the car is motion. They can be locked manually. If we remember to lock them manually, they do unlock when the car is shut off.

The Saturn dealer checked the car at about the three-year mark and could say only that it was a computer thing.

A And that "computer thing" is the BCM -- body control module. The diagnostic chart for problems with this system focuses on three things: resynchronization of the remote keyless entry system, the power door lock and unlock relays, and checking for fault codes in the BCM.

Check the door lock and unlock relays and the driver's door unlock relay. A poor connection or bad relay might be a simple answer.