Five Common Brake Problems in Cars

Updated on January 27, 2019
eddiecarrara profile image

Eddie spent 35 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

Brake problems can be daunting if you don't know what's causing them. Fear of the unknown causes anxiety. You have questions like: Will my brakes fail? Are they safe? Can I drive my car? Should I drive my car?

Here are five of the most common brake problems I run into, starting with the most serious. It's good to understand what the cause of your problem might be before a mechanic starts talking about the need to replace this or that. If you don’t find your issue here, check out my article on brake noises, look through the comments at the end, or leave a comment yourself telling your story.

The Five Most Common Brake Problems

  1. Soft brake pedal
  2. Car pulls to one side
  3. Steering wheel shakes when brakes are applied
  4. Brake pedal pulses up and down
  5. Whole car shakes when brakes are applied

Continue scrolling to learn more about these common issues and their solutions.

Parts of the Brake System

In case these terms are new to you, real quick, I'll tell you that to stop the car, the master cylinder sends out fluid through tubes under pressure to drive a pincher (a “caliper”) that presses a “pad” or “shoe” against a metal disc (“rotor”) or drum. Most modern brakes have rotors; older ones have drums, especially in the rear.

1. Soft Brake Pedal

A soft brake pedal is a MAJOR brake issue. If your brake pedal feels squishy, "like stepping on a plum," and won't stop on the way down unless you pump it, or the brake pedal sinks to the floor with little or no resistance, you have a dangerous situation and should NOT drive any further! If you do, it could be a matter of minutes until you smash into something.

When the brake pedal gets soft or sinks to the floor, it's generally due to a leak in the braking system, most commonly the master cylinder leaking internally or externally.

The first thing you should do is check your brake fluid—look in your owner's manual to see how.

Brake fluid reservoir.  if your brake pedal is soft; first check the fluid level to determine if you have a leak in the braking system.
Brake fluid reservoir. if your brake pedal is soft; first check the fluid level to determine if you have a leak in the braking system. | Source

A master cylinder may fail in two ways: internally or externally. If the brake fluid reservoir is full and there are no signs of leaks, the problem is usually an internal problem that you can’t identify just by looking at the master cylinder. Don't drive the car in any case; there is something wrong with your brakes if the pedal is soft.

It's worth grabbing a flashlight and looking to see whether the master cylinder is leaking visibly. If it is, you should be able see the fluid on the carpet under your dash, just over your brake pedal. The pictures below show the master cylinder under the brake pedal.

Location of the Master Cylinder

The master cylinder, where it attaches to the brake pedal. If the master cylinder is leaking externally, you will see fluid dripping from the place where the rod goes into the cylinder.
The master cylinder, where it attaches to the brake pedal. If the master cylinder is leaking externally, you will see fluid dripping from the place where the rod goes into the cylinder. | Source
A better idea of where the master cylinder is located in relation to the brake pedal.
A better idea of where the master cylinder is located in relation to the brake pedal. | Source

Note: The only fix I recommend for a faulty master cylinder is to replace it with a new one. You shouldn't waste your valuable time trying to rebuild it. It's a vital component in your car; leave it to the pros. You wouldn’t pack your own parachute on your first jump, would you?

2. Car Pulls to One Side When Braking

A car that pulls to one side can be annoying and also dangerous. This braking problem can be caused by several different things, even the tires (see below), but the most common cause is a frozen caliper. Over time, a caliper can freeze up gradually, a process that can go unnoticed for a long period of time.

One way a caliper can freeze up is by the piston on the caliper being stuck in its bore. If the dust boot that protects the piston from the elements gets torn, water and debris will penetrate the metal in the caliper and cause rust and corrosion. If the piston is stuck, and the fluid pressure can't push it back into the bore easily, the pressure on the pads will be uneven and the car will pull. To fix this problem you will need to replace the caliper.

Another possibility is that the pistons got bent, during a brake job or a car accident, and can't move freely anymore, causing the caliper to bind and limiting the amount of pressure to the pads.

The caliper can also freeze up if the caliper slide pins have lost lubrication because they have not been maintained properly. If the slide pins are your problem, they need to be cleaned and lubricated or replaced. You can buy an overhaul kit for calipers, but they are hard to find and your caliper may not be worth bringing back to life. Buying a new caliper may cost more but you will make up the cost with the time you save. Been there, done that!

The Caliper

Caliper slide pins need to move freely
Caliper slide pins need to move freely | Source
The caliper piston needs to move back into its bore with no binding.
The caliper piston needs to move back into its bore with no binding. | Source

Other Causes of a Pull to One Side When Braking

A faulty proportioning valve or master cylinder could also cause a pull to one side when braking; this is unusual but it does happen. Most braking systems work on a diagonal braking design for safety reasons; that is, the left front and right rear brakes work together and so do the right front and left rear. That way, if there is a leak in one part of the system, it should only affect one front brake and one rear brake. If this is what is going on, you need to identify and replace the faulty part.

A pull when braking may also have nothing to do with brakes. Bad front tires, or broken belts in a front tire, could cause it. Any pull caused by unevenly worn tires will be amplified when you step on the brakes. The tires' contact surfaces expand when you brake, thus putting more pressure on the bad tire and causing the pull to worsen. Replacing your tires will fix this, or you could try rotating your front tires to the rear of the vehicle.

3. Steering Wheel Shakes When Brakes Are Applied

This is a very common brake issue on all makes and models: when you’re driving at highway speeds and you apply your brakes, the steering wheel shakes.

There are many possible causes of this shaking, including the front rotors being warped, hot spots (slight irregularities) on your rotors caused by excessive heat, or pad impressions. If your car sits for long periods without moving, moisture from rain or high humidity causes your rotors to rust, except for the patch of rotor surface where the pads rest. This patch of uneven rotor surface is called a pad impression and will cause the brakes to pulsate.

This brake pulsation can be fixed very easily by having your rotors resurfaced (which is cheaper) or replaced (more expensive). You can resurface the rotors if they are still thick enough. Every rotor has a "minimum spec" for thickness, usually stamped on the rotor near the hub where the lug nuts are. The rotor needs to be measured at the thinnest point with a micrometer or vernier caliper to determine whether it can be resurfaced or not.

Steering Wheel Vibration When Braking

An intermittent noise when braking lightly, as in the video below, could also be related to an uneven surface on the rotors.

4. Brake Pedal Pulses Up and Down When Applying Brakes

If every time you apply your brakes, your brake pedal pulses up and down, the problem is usually caused by the rotors being warped or out of true. As rotors age, they go through the heating and cooling process thousands of times, so it's inevitable for them to lose their shape or trueness. If you do a lot of highway driving and you happen to be hard on your brakes, you will probably run into this problem many times in the life of your car.

The fix for this brake problem is simple: resurfacing the rotors, if they are still thick enough (see section 3 above), or replacing them if they are not. If you do either of these processes, and your brake pads are more than half worn, it’s worth it to just replace the pads at the same time for the peace of mind it will give you; pads wear out frequently (they are a consumable item) and you might as well deal with them while in the neighborhood.

EBC Brakes DP6993 6000 Series Greenstuff Truck and SUV Brake Pad
EBC Brakes DP6993 6000 Series Greenstuff Truck and SUV Brake Pad

EBC makes quality brake pads that don't make much noise.

 

A Scraping Noise After a Brake Job May Be Easy to Fix

5. Whole Car Shakes When Brakes Are Applied

If your whole car shakes when your brakes are applied, it could be just your rear brakes. As a rule of thumb, shaking caused by a problem in the front end of the car will be felt in the steering wheel, while shaking in the rear will seem to affect the whole car.

To determine if your rear brakes are the problem, you need to test them in isolation. One way to test your rear drum brakes is to apply the parking brake slightly while driving, because the parking brake uses the drum brakes in the rear. You can do this test if your emergency brake handle is near the center console and it is the style that you pull up with your hand.

Note: I don’t recommend pulling up on the emergency brake handle at high speeds, it can cause your rear brakes to lock up and send the vehicle into a spin causing death or serious injury!

To do this test, drive your car in a remote location with no traffic at a speed of about 30 miles an hour. Push and hold the release button on the end of the emergency brake handle; this is so the emergency brake does not lock into place and can be released easily. Meanwhile, pull up on the handle just enough to feel the rear brakes grab slightly. If your rear drums are the cause of the brake pulsation, you will feel the pulsation at this time, and the car will shake when the emergency brake is applied.

If this is your problem, then the fix is to resurface the rear drums or replace them. Again, you will have to measure the drums to determine if they can be resurfaced or not.

If you have rear disc brakes, this procedure may not work because some makes and models have a separate emergency brake, which is connected not to the rear rotor and caliper, but to a special drum inside the rear rotors with a separate braking system. If you have this type of rear braking system, it is almost impossible to isolate the rear brakes.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this information will help you (and your mechanic) decide where to start when fixing your problem. When you are in a crisis situation like a brake problem, some mechanics will take advantage of the customer and over-sell the work that really needs to be done. There are only about nine evil mechanics in the world, they just move around a lot!

More on Brakes by Eddie Carrara

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • What causes a brake pedal to depress all the way to the floor in a car?

    There are a few options to look at here. The master cylinder is leaking, low brake fluid, brake line leaking, frozen caliper slide pins, frozen caliper piston, leaking caliper, etc...

  • Sometimes when I apply the brakes, the pedal of my SUV goes very low before stopping completely. Other times it is fine. What can cause this?

    The most likely cause is a caliper sticking, either it's the piston or slide pins. Regardless, I recommend having a thorough brake inspection by an experienced mechanic.

  • Will a bad master cylinder cause the calipers to stick? I put new calipers, rotors and rubber lines on a couple of months ago and now the calipers stick sometimes.

    Most likely your caliper is defective, if it were the master it would most likely be more then one brake caliper sticking.

  • My Chevrolet 2006 has some braking problems. The steering wheel vibrates all the time and always veers to the left. When I apply the brakes, especially downhill, I feel the brake pedal presses itself more than I do. Sometimes, though not very often, the brakes won't work, and it sounds like it's grinding for one or two seconds. When that happens, I release the brakes and apply them again super fast. Can you help me understand where the problems are and what I should repair or replace?

    The first thing you need to do is remove all four wheels and inspect all caliper slide pins, pistons, and brake pads and shoes. It sounds to me like some components aren't moving freely and are getting stuck causing the pulling and noises. If you don't know what to look for, have a mechanic who knows what they are doing and are reputable to inspect the brakes.

  • The brakes on my new O4 Ford Explorer are dragging. What is the cause?

    I recommend checking the brake light switch, it may be out of adjustment and applying a little pressure to the brake pedal. Or it's possible your brake booster push rod is out of adjustment. Check and make sure there is free play at the top of the brake pedal after driving and braking for a while, if there is no free play, something is out of adjustment.

© 2011 Eddie Carrara

Comments

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    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 days ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tom,

      It sounds like your brake booster is not working. I recommend checking the vacuum line going to the booster for any leak or poor connections. If all looks good, that truck should still be under warranty?

    • profile image

      Tom 

      6 days ago

      I have 2017silverado, just had new pads and rotors ,now today I went to stop after traveling a 100 miles pedal was hard but it like froze an no real brakes

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Arlene,

      It must have something to do with the ABS modulator or something. I recommend you have a professional check the system and be sure the mechanic knows GM products.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jon,

      The check engine light should not be on, period!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Betty,

      Any contamination in the master cylinder can cause a low brake pedal. I recommend replacing the rusted components and flush the brake lines.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ridge,

      It sounds like something was not put back together correctly. I recommend you have it towed back because it may not be safe to drive. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Betty McCoy 

      5 weeks ago

      My brake pedal went clear to the floor board. When I braked again it was o.k after that. The diagnosis was rust and moisture in the brake line. Can that cause brake failure?

    • profile image

      Jon 

      5 weeks ago

      In the showroom brand new 2019 Silverado truck, take it out after jump starting for a spin. Before driving away, realize the power brake assist is not working and theres a check engine light, and a brake light.

      Dealer tells me that's normal! Say what? Since when, if you pull the battery out and replace it does the computer not reconize the systems condition and turn off the brake assist?

      Im a control systems engineer. Thats not right.

    • profile image

      Ridge S 

      5 weeks ago

      I took my jeep in because my back brakes were sticking. They replaced the did the brake job in the back and also fixed my leaking axel seals. 6 days later i come to a stop and clunk clunk sound happens and all of the sudden my back driver side tire is stuck and doesnt want to release. What is happening?

    • profile image

      Arlene Witherly 

      6 weeks ago

      95 Silverado 4wd, just replaced Tyrods, front brake pads, test drove it, after driving12 miles, my brakes failed, put new master cylinder & bled all 4 wheels all day long, still no brakes at all, ABS & Brake illumination lites display were on prior to brake job & still on after brake job. Scanner shows fault code 25 on ABS scanner. Still have no brakes at all, & no brake lite on left rear. Pls. Help

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Rasika,

      It sounds like you have a bad cell in your battery, sometimes it starts and sometimes it's dead. I recommend you replace the battery before doing anything else and let me know how it works after.

    • profile image

      Rasika 

      7 weeks ago

      Chevrolet 2006

      Sometimes i cant start my car. Yellow engine appears on dash board. Sometimes along with battery sign. But power is there. Lights, radio and wipers work properly. If jumps after around 10 times it atarts. If not wouldnt start at all. After a few hours it strarts like nothing happened. This thing happens at least once in three weeks. Diagnosis didnt show any problems and wouldnt start with the spare key either.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Lance,

      Is the mechanic reputable? Did you have leaking lines? is the car still at the shop?

    • profile image

      Lance 

      2 months ago

      I have an 09 Ford Escape. My brake pedal is spongy. Here's my question: before fixing everything, are you able to find out if it's the master cylinder or the ABS module?

      It seems like alot of money to fix the master cylinder and two brake lines (driver side front and driver side rear) to then come back and say it's the ABS module.

      Seems like it would be time to look for a new vehicle before spending that type of money.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Scott,

      Sounds like you blew a wheel cylinder. I recommend having it towed to a garage to have it inspected, don't try to drive the car, you could lose your brakes completely.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Comolayinka,

      It sounds like you either have air in the brake hydraulic system or you have seized caliper pistons or slide pins. I recommend having the car towed to a reputable garage and have the brakes checked thoroughly before you drive your car again, you could be putting yourself in danger.

    • profile image

      Hubpagescomolayinka 

      2 months ago

      After driving a long distance my sudden stops working until it is pumped twice or once ;if i park and it cools down a bit it works normal back but after a while it fails again and i have changed the masters twice but the problem still persist what could possible be wrong

    • profile image

      Scott 

      2 months ago

      My rear brakes were grinding. And the next day they stoped grinding and now I have no pressure. It’s a 97 Taurus so they are drum brakes

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Paulette,

      It sounds like you may have warped rotors. I recommend having the brakes checked for any worn or damaged parts before you drive anymore just to be safe. It may cost a few bucks to have them checked but it's worth the peace of mind.

    • profile image

      Paulette 

      3 months ago

      Whenever I am going around a corner down a hill and press the brake pedal I feel a rumbling or grinding under the brake pedal. It's very scary I usually lift my feet off the brake a little and put SUV in a lower gear to slow down the vehicle

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Christina,

      Are you sure someone put a different fluid in the master cylinder or do you think maybe the master cylinder has failed due to age?

    • profile image

      Christina 

      4 months ago

      My brakes in my car was working great until some body poored some thing else in to my car where the brake fluid gose in at now my brake paddle gose all the way down to the floor. I can't drive my car no more till I get that fixed.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Rhonda,

      I recommend replacing both calipers first and if you have the money, replace the short rubber hoses at each caliper.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      I Arekaybee,

      Did you adjust the rear shoes after installing them? Possible collapsed line? Air still trapped in the system?

    • profile image

      arekaybee 

      4 months ago

      2000 Chevy Tracker. Replaced Master Cylinder, Drums, Shoes, and Wheel cylinders. Pedal is okay then sinks to the floor. Brake Booster? Any info would help.

    • profile image

      Rhonda 

      4 months ago

      My 2005 Honda CR-V driver side rear breaks are eating up the brake pads, I have to change them every 2 to 3 weeks what could be causing this problem

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Saif,

      Most likely the master cylinder pushrod is not adjusted properly and is applying pressure to the brakes while driving, but as the brakes get hot the fluid expands and it applies even more pressure to the brake system and it can lock up the brakes. The master cylinder needs to be removed and the push rod needs to be backed off. Let me know if this helps, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Emjay,

      I highly recommend you have the vehicle towed to a garage and have the brake lines checked. It sounds like you lost brake fluid to one wheel or a caliper is frozen. What ever it is it's not safe to drive. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Emjay 

      4 months ago

      My golf 1 pulls one side when braking and and break goes straight down to the floor, it freaking me out

    • profile image

      Saif. 

      4 months ago

      Hello, recently I replaced with new master brake cylinder of my car camry 2004. after replace face several time problem. when I left from mechanic shop on the way to my home. after some time while it's on move, the car start shacking and hard to move and feel like very hard for front wheel to move, then I checked found that front wheel internal metal are getting very hotter, like it will catch fire if I continue move on. then I called that mechanic explain him. he comes and release some oil from both front wheel brake oil nozzle, it was oky, then next day same thing happened on highway, almost every time happening, can you tell me what is the possible solution of this problem. ?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jan,

      I could have taken the whole car apart and put back together 4 times in 4 months. You need to tow it out of there and have a master mechanic/experienced mechanic look at it. 4 month without a car is unacceptable.

    • profile image

      jan 

      5 months ago

      need help...my 2009 journey went in for breaks in July/August. Since then it wont stop. They have changed the mc, the brake lines, the booster and still wont stop! They have had my car for almost four months and they cant get it to stop! They refuse to try to work on the abs system, What can cause a car to never stop again after replacing brakes? They want to cash out my car. I need it fixed as I cant afford. another one.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Dee ve

      Keeping mind that air will rise to the top of the fluid, so if you're bleeding the calipers, opening the lower bleed screw is not proper, the highest point is where you what to bleed from to release air, and yes, you need to align the piston notch with the pads, very important!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Morgan,

      Just double check all their work just to be sure the didn't twist a brake line or miss something. Check out this other article I wrote for more in-depth help https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Replace-...

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jody,

      Don't leave me hanging, now when you drive, what happens?

    • profile image

      jody 

      5 months ago

      I got a 2004 GMC yukon we lost the brakes with a soft pedal. We replaced the master cylinder and a caliper we bleed the system and got a good pedal back. But now when i drive i

    • profile image

      Morgan McCallum 

      5 months ago

      My Grandson and his friend just changed the front pads and calipers in his 97 Toyota Tercel. After a little trial and error, they got it right. They bled the brakes. Right front(will lock up) and rear left will only work when car is running, when the pedal is pushed completely to the floor. Left front and right rear will not work at any time. Pedal is completely soft and can not be pumped up. We can see not leaks in brake lines of components, or from the master cylinder inside the firewall. It is sounding like the master cylinder. Just looking for confirmation, before he spends a bunch money that he doesn't have.

    • profile image

      DeeVe 

      5 months ago

      checked all lines/hoses and they are OK

      I finally had some success. Not exactly sure what did it, but 3 things were done:

      -Raised back end of car to level the MC before bleeding

      -Only bled 2 side ports instead of all 4 (2 are on bottom)

      -Opened a port, depressed and held pedal then closed port instead of depressing pedal, opening then closing port.

      -aligned caliper piston notches with pads.

      I can now lock wheels on gravel. Can't quite lock wheels on pavement yet.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Make sure the brake light switch is adjusted properly. If the vehicle has ABS, your modulator may be the problem.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi DeeVe,

      I recommend replacing any rubber lines in the system, one may be collapsed internally. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      DeeVe 

      6 months ago

      (1990 Subaru Loyale)

      Automatic, no ABS, no hill holder. front disc, rear drum

      What I've done/checked/inspected

      -- No fluid leaks

      -- No damaged parts

      -- All components pads, shoes drums, rotors are well within spec

      -- Bled system multiple times

      -- Hoses, lines - OK

      -- Engine has good vacuum and idle

      -- Checked rear manual brake adjusters - OK

      -- Booster checks out OK with pedal tests

      -- Replaced , bled master cylinder

      -- Replaced rear drum brake cylinders

      -- Re-bled the system again, multiple times

      I've gone through over 2 quarts of brake fluid and I'm not getting any air out of the system.

      I've checked all the hardware twice. Opened the drums and everything is working. Opened the calipers and everything is working

      Don't know what else to do. Everything seems OK but pedal is still too soft - can't lock up wheels

      Any ideas ??

    • profile image

      1999 honda accord v6 

      6 months ago

      front bake locking up , however releasing fluid in front will unlock brakes . Lines , hose and calipiers have been replaced on front. ANy ideas

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      HI Meelah,

      Have the brake master cylinder checked first.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      HI Carole,

      If you know of another mechanic who can take a look at it they may find something like a vacuum line or ground wire isn't connected. The check engine light may point you in the direction of the problem, you may have more then one problem, and one may be causing your hard starting issue. Let me know your thoughts.

    • Carole Okamoto profile image

      Carole 

      6 months ago from Alaska

      I have a 2002 Isuzu Trooper and lost my brakes, took it to a mechanic who replaced a Master Cylinder and a couple of weeks later I had the right side valve cover gasket replaced. Ever since then I have had problems with my car not starting and I have had to have a hard jump to get it started-and many times it took some trying to get the car started. Once when trying to start it I had a friend in the car who pushed on the brake pedal and it started. I bought a new battery and still problems. Took it back to mechanic and he said it was a loose cable so I have had the cables connected to the battery checked and still it will not start. My ASB light is on and the car pulls to the left when I put on the brakes. My check engine light is on and has been for several years and my mechanic said not to worry about it unless it flashes. I am a widow and very frustrated. Willing to have the car fixed but what can I do if the mechanic does not/cannot fix it? Can you help...pleeese!!!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Steve,

      Yes, its usually because the caliper slide pins or piston is frozen. The most common cause of the brake pedal going to the floor is the master cylinder.

    • profile image

      Steve 

      7 months ago

      Can your brake peddle go to the floor because of a bad caliper

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      7 months ago

      My Suburban is grabbing on the back right brake only, wearing the shoe down to the metal. The shop working on it cant figure out why. They have replaced all of the necessary standard brake parts, and put it all back together, and it still grabs. Any ideas?

    • profile image

      Chris 

      7 months ago

      how come my car wont stop when i push down on the brakes? It goes all the way down to the floor? It has brake fluid its not leaking brake fluid either.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Shirley,

      Either your cables are binding or your emergency pad/shoes are not releasing and need servicing.

    • profile image

      Shirley keough 

      8 months ago

      I have a 2010 dodge caravan applied the hand brake and it won't release

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi James,

      Usually the stability system will stop your vehicle from spinning out like when you do doughnuts in a parking lot, if your stability system is on and you try to fishtail or swig the ass end of your car out while driving around a sharp corner, you car will prevent you from having fun or may save your life, it all depends on the situation.

    • profile image

      James Burnett 

      8 months ago

      what is my service stability system

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Larry,

      Something is applying the brakes lightly causing the fluid to heat up and expand causing more pressure to build in the braking system and apply the brakes. I have seem misadjusted brake light switches cause this problem, misadjusted booster pushrods. When this happens, is the re any free plat at the top of the brake pedal? if not try adjusting the pushrod under the dash at the inside of the brake booster or check the brake light switch adjustment. Let me know what you find.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Penny,

      You think they might have checked the brakes on the 45k service? I recommend taking it back and tell the mechanic the noise is still there (what, no road test after a brake job?) don't let them charge you a dime, this is the third time back. Most likely the rotor backing plate need to be adjusted because there is not enough clearance between the rotor and backing plate. Let me know what happens, thanks Penny :)

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mechelle,

      I answered there questions on you last post :) let me know is you have more questions.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Michelle,

      Most likely the brake light switch at the brake pedal is not working and needs to be replaced. The hazards only work the outer brake lights, not the third brake light. You should hear hissing when pressing the brake pedal because it uses a vacuum booster to assist when braking and you hear vacuum being released. Let me know if I answered all you questions :)

    • profile image

      Larry 

      8 months ago

      HI Eddie, I have an 2006 Ford F150... I started having several brake issues at one time. First I had the pedal to the floor , had it checked by a mechanic and said there was nothing wrong with the master cylinder. The problem was intermittent. So I replaced the master cylinder myself. (first one I have done) It seems to have fixed the problem so far.

      At the same time the brakes applied themselves while sitting at an idle. Driving a few minutes away to get it home, it had turned the rotors blue from over heating. I turned off the motor and let it sit a while. Restarted the motor and it cleared the problem on it's own.

      Now the brakes are applying themselves again not as hard but noticeable. I have found it I disconnect the battery, turn the the key on (have no idea if the key part makes a difference) for about 30 seconds. Turn off the key and re-connect the battery it will clear the issues.

      The abs light is (NOT) on

      Any idea's ?

      Thank you so much !

    • profile image

      penny 

      8 months ago

      my car went for 45000 service after that there was a sound on the rear brake i took it back they said they brake pads were almost finished and now after the brake pads replaced the sound is still there please advise what might be the problem.

    • profile image

      MissSchelle 

      8 months ago

      Hi Eddie

      I posted a question before but forgot to sign in

      I have a 2000 model VT Holden Commodore

      When getting it ready for a roadworthy certificate we noticed the break lights weren’t working

      the break pedal was going all the way to the floor with barely any effort and there didn’t seem to be any pressure and a lot of loud hissing/air releasing noise.

      But noticed that when the engine is off and you try to press the pedal that the pressure was there and built up quickly making it hard to push the pedal to not able after 3-4 pumps and no hissing

      further tested the rear break lights turning on the hazard lights

      When doing this the two rear lights would work/flash but the third light that is situated in the rear window did not work at all

      What could be the reasons behind these problems pls help

    • profile image

      Michelle 

      8 months ago

      Hi Eddie

      I have a 2000 VT Holden commodore

      As I was checking my rear break lights to see if they were working I noticed that they were not coming on when pushing the break pedle there seemed no pressure and was sinking to the floor with very little pressure applied, there is also a loud hissing noise when pressing the peddle , I noticed that the break lights also weren’t coming on so I tested the hazards to see if they were working and both rear end lights worked but the break/hazard light in the rear window was not working,

      I also noted with the break peddle when pressing it with the engine off there was pressure

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ryan,

      It sounds like your got a defective master cylinder. Have you checked the brake fluid level yet? If it's ;ow, you may have a leak, if it's full, the master cylinder is probably defective.

    • profile image

      Ryan Cerutti 

      10 months ago

      Hello there. Back in March 17 I replaced master due to pedal to floor. Brakes were much better but after a while had to put.a ton of force on brake to stop and when it was snow n Ice I had to pump a lot of would slide. This is a 2011 toy camry de 4cyl btw. Now today our of no where when comming yo stop brakes start to work but pedal gradually makes way to floor.and car won't stop. Any ideas.thanks

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Steve,

      There are only 3 things that I know of that can do this,

      1. The ABS modulator has an internal malfunction.

      2. The Brake light switch is out of adjustment and is pushing on the brake pedal slightly, there should be some free play when your brake pedal is at the top.

      3. A blockage in a line, if it's only one wheel, it could be that line going from the master to the caliper, usually it's the rubber flex portion.

      Let me know this helps.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Edward,

      Did you leave something loose like a caliper bolt? What did you do to your brakes? What did you change or take apart?

    • profile image

      Edward 

      10 months ago

      I just got done doing my brakes and my driver side wheel is making a clunking noise what could be making that noise

    • profile image

      Steve 

      10 months ago

      I seem to have a brake problem and cannot locate the problem... my wheels keep locking / braking on their own. I have change breaks all around, calipers, master brake assistant (under reservoir), reservoir and it keeps doing it. doesn't matter if I am speeding or not. there is always a resistance. i also got fire in the front wheels at some point.

      it is my 3rd time to the garage. they have no clue what it could be... would you have an idea?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Troy,

      I guess you have drum brakes? If so, you'll need to adjust the rear brakes, if you don't know how to do it, you may want to have a mechanic do it for you, if it's done wrong, you could lock up the rear brakes by over tightening them. Let me know if you have more questions or if you have disc brakes.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      It's not a bad idea to get a second opinion and a thorough brake inspection should only cost about a half hour labor. Let me know what you decide to do, thanks.

    • profile image

      Suzukiswift99 

      10 months ago

      Hello, my brake on my car was spongey and went to the floor last week. I took my car to a garage, but being a young female he unfortunately took advantage of me. He replaced my brake pads without asking me, and then did not go into description of any other work he did. My brake now feels as if it is back to normal, however I am worried incase there is a leak or something which will lead to the brakes returning to how they were the other week, as he said that there is still work to do but he would not tell me what it was. Do you think I should get my car checked over?

    • profile image

      Troy 

      10 months ago

      I just replays the rear bearings on my 91 Toyota tercel once all put together correctly there was little to non brakes with no e brake at all could some one help me

      out

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Sorry for the late reply Hal,

      Is the caliper sticking? If you jack that wheel up does it turn easy? Is the wheel getting hotter than the other wheels? The rotor will not make it pull, only a sticking caliper or a defective tire. Have you swapped the front tires side to side to see if it pulls in the other direction? Let me know, thanks.

    • profile image

      Hal 

      11 months ago

      I just replace the left front brake caliper on a 2005 Toyota Sienna vehicle pulls to the right at replace the road at the same time should I replace the right rotor as well it look like it was fairly new the the vehicle continues to pull to the right even after bleeding several times

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi T.J.,

      I would have to say it's either your brake master cylinder or proportioning valve. Are there any leaks in the system that you can see?

    • profile image

      T.j. 

      12 months ago

      Rear drivers side brake locked up so i replaced caliper and brake hose along with pads have jacked up and brakes dont work on drivers rear and passenger front went to bleed and no fluid goin to those two wheels other two diagonal gettin pressure what would cause this?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jake,

      It sounds to me like you still have air in the RR line, I recommend bleeding the brakes a couple more times to e sure there is no air in the lines. Was this your initial problem or did this happen afte the brake repair?

    • profile image

      Jacob from Iowa 

      12 months ago

      So I have a 99 GMC jimmy and I bleed the brakes yesterday but the brake pedal sinks to the floor and my back passenger tire still rotates even though the car is stopped. What do you think the problem is?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Lisa,

      It sounds like you may have more than one problem, and if your brake pedal is soft I highly don't recommend driving it until you have it repaired, a tow would be much safer.

      If there is air in the lines that means you have a leak in the system and it is not safe to drive, you need to get this fixed first.

      The humming when driving is most likely the tires with uneven wear or a wheel bearing that is worn.

      The clicking noise could be a CV joint that is damaged and worn.

      Get the brakes checked first, and I don't recommend driving it, having it towed is the smartest and safest way to deliver the vehicle to the garage. Let me know what they find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      12 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I have a 2001 Honda CRV and the car brakes by itself as im driving and the petal does not want to cone back up. Such an anxious circumstance. It also gas a constant humming noise thats pretty loud and a clicking noise thst can even be felt from the passenger side floor board. Please help me figure out whats hoing on. I was told its safe to drive that it may posdibly be air in the lines or a brake booster problem. I don't know very much about cars do im lost. Thank you you so much for your time and God bless. (:

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ashley,

      I recommend you take the vehicle back to the shop that replace the front brake and have them check their work. If the vehicle didn't do this before the brake job, they may have made a mistake somewhere during the process. Let me know what happens.

    • profile image

      Ashley in Ohio 

      12 months ago

      Eddie,

      I could not tell you for sure, but it seems like my issues are in the front. When the brakes "slam" on me, I'm almost at a complete stop already. I haven't noticed any skidding, but locking up may be a better way to describe the "slamming" that happens sometimes.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Idelorme,

      Is this a push button start car or do you have to turn a key?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi JFrakes,

      You'll need to have the RR ABS sensor checked for any obstructions or damage, if everything looks ok, you may need to replace the wheel speed sensor.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi A. Rod,

      If you have to pump the brakes to help you stop or to make the brake pedal hard most likely you still have air in the system, you may want to have a professional bleed the system for you, sometimes it can be tricky to get all the air out.

      If the engine wants to stall when pumping the brake at idle, that is a sign that the brake booster has a leak or vacuum is bleeding off the engine causing the stalling problem.

    • profile image

      A.rod 

      12 months ago

      I changed my brakes,master cylinder and rotors on my 2003 v8 Lincoln Ls premium sport but still doesn't brake as good I already bleed the brakes lines as well and brake pedal feels good not too hard not spongy but when I try to stop it it takes a couple pumps plus car feels like turning off when stopped someone told me it can be my brake booster??? But not sure just want to get it back on the road again any suggestions??

    • profile image

      jfrakes352 

      12 months ago

      I have an '03 Cadillac Deville DTS, and lately, whenever I make sweeping right-hand turns at 40 mph or faster, my right rear brake actuates and feels like the ABS is triggered. This is of some alarm to me, as this has happened while I am merging into freeway traffic, without warning. What is happening with my brakes??

    • profile image

      ldelorme25 

      12 months ago

      Hi Eddie, when i don't push really hard on the brakes , when i turn the key nothing happens , no sound , nothing

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ashley,

      Do you know if it's the front or rear brakes that are doing this? Are any of the wheels locking up and skidding? Let me know, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Idelorme25,

      I don't think it has anything to do with the brake, try starting it without doing that and see what happens. Let me know what happens, thanks.

    • profile image

      ldelorme25 

      12 months ago

      My car wont start unless i push really hard the brakes with two feet. What could the problem be?

    • profile image

      Ashley in Ohio 

      13 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I have an 04 Ford Ranger and it seems that when it is wet outside (dewy morning, raining, etc.) my brakes tend to slam when almost at a complete stop. At least, being "wet" outside seems to be the only thing that is consistent when this happens. I have recently had my rotors and pads replaced in the front, but today it rained and it happened again!

      I'm coming to a slow, controlled stop. Sometimes just pulling out of my apartment's parking lot is happens. So I'm not even going that fast when I go to stop.. but I've noticed each time the grass is wet from dew. I'm at a complete loss right now as to what to even look at for this issue??

      Your help is much appreciated!!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tiffany,

      If the master cylinder was just replaced and you feel like the brake pedal has no free play most likely the mechanic did not make the correct adjustment on the master cylinder pushrod. I recommend bringing it back to the mechanic that replace the master cylinder, they may be able to make an adjustment on the pushrod under the dash that connects the brake booster to the brake pedal.

      Another thing to check is the brake pedal switch which controls your brake lights, it could be out of adjustment and causing too much pressure on the brake pedal and diminishing the free play. Let me know how you make out and let me know if you have any other questions, thanks.

    • profile image

      Tiffany 

      13 months ago

      so in august master cycliner was replaced and in november COMPLETE BRAKE JOB was done.. new pads, new rotors calipers and brake fluid.. But it now feels like the brakes are catching or sticking. the pedal has no leeway. I have taken it back to the mechanic and he has told me that he checked everything and nothing seems to be wrong. He suggested to take it to the dealership to run test..I have spent hours and hours looking this problem up.. Just don't know what to do now. My 2011 Escape has been checked and rechecked...

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ian,

      If you were loosing brake fluid, you most likely still have a leak. Yes I believe you have air in the lines. You'll need to find the leak and have it fixed before getting the air out of the lines.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Rodnesseus,

      Sounds like you may have run low on braking material. I recommend having them checked asap.

    • profile image

      Rodnesseus Hanford 

      13 months ago

      I have a 1995 toyota avalon i was driving and about to stop at a red light but my brakes wouldnt stop and it made a grinding noise ,what is the problem

    • profile image

      ian brown 

      13 months ago

      Ps. I am no longer loosing brake fluid.

    • profile image

      ian brown 

      13 months ago

      Hi Eddie. My brake fluid had s slight leak. I have been topping up about once a month. We had s frozen day and when I started the car it over revved. I turned off and restarted fine. When I went to drive the brake now goes to floor. I can pump it to work. There's s vacuum to servo. Do you think it's taken air in from leak or servo broke. Diesel Volvo s40 2002. Thanks

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Preto,

      I'm not sure what you're asking. Do you want to know how much it cost to replaced the brake fluid? No more then $100 if they bleed each of the calipers.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Misty,

      Did you have the brakes bleed? Did a garage do the work? How long has this been happening before the master cylinder replacement?

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