Five Common Brake Problems in Cars - AxleAddict - A community of car lovers, enthusiasts, and mechanics sharing our auto advice
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Five Common Brake Problems in Cars

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

When A Car Makes A Rumbling Noise and Shakes While Driving

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

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

Answer: 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...

Question: 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.

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

Question: I have a 99 Honda Civic EX. Why is there a rear knocking noise from the drums when applying the brakes?

Answer: You have a rear knocking noise from the drums because your shoes are being pulled away from the backing plate and snapped back into place by the spring clips. You could try having a fine cut done to the brake shoe surface of the drums and lightly sand them after the cut, or replace the drums.

Question: Can it be the brake pads?

Answer: Yes, brake pads can cause problems for brakes on a car.

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

Answer: 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.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: My car has power brakes and used to stop on a dime. Recently it takes longer to stop and I really have to put a lot of pressure on the brake pedal to come to a complete stop. What's up with that?

Answer: There are quite a few possibilities for this problem. Brake fade is when the brake fluid is contaminated, so it causes a soft brake pedal, air in the lines, leaking master cylinder, frozen or seized caliper pins or piston, worn out pads, and glazed rotors. I recommend having a thorough brake inspection by removing all calipers and inspecting all moving parts of each caliper, if everything looks good, examine the hydraulic part of the system.

Question: Only one wheel brakes on my 2000 Acura. I replaced master cylinder already. What could be the issue?

Answer: Is your abs light on? It's possible your ABS module is no good.

Question: What makes a car's disc brakes drag hard after a 15-minute drive?

Answer: The brake fluid temperature rising and pressure building in the brake system. Sometime a misadjusted brake light switch can cause this, a blockage in a line, a frozen caliper slide pin, or a caliper piston will not more freely are all likely causes.

Question: My brakes squeak only when I back up. What do you think the problem might be?

Answer: Either the brake pads need to be replaced, or you could try shaving off the leading rear edge of the brake pad at a 45-degree angle and see if that helps.

Question: My car won't start unless I press really hard on the brakes. Why is this?

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

Question: My rear inner pads wear down faster than the outer ones. Is it a caliper problem?

Answer: It could be a sticking caliper piston, slide pins, or the pads could be corroded in the caliper preventing them from moving freely. You'll need to remove the caliper and inspect all moving parts to diagnose the problem. Be sure to remove the pad shims from the caliper and check for any rust under the shims as rust can cause the pads to bind.

Question: I just had brakes and rotors done two months ago on my vehicle. Now I have loud grinding sounds coming from the front left tire. Is this a caliper or could it be a blockage in the brake hose?

Answer: The grinding sound may be something caught between the backing plate and rotor. I recommend having this area of the brakes inspected first.

Question: The brakes on my 2010 Lexus ES brakes kick back when turning the steering wheel. What are possible causes?

Answer: It sounds like you may have an ABS sensor not reading properly or maybe a damaged ABS sensor wire? The ABS is what kicks the brake pedal back, so most likely it has something to do with the ABS system.

Question: I had problems with my brakes grinding and pulling to the right when braking. I changed the brake pads, but that didn't help much. I replaced the brake pads again, both calipers and rotors. When I bled the lines, the driver side brake fluid wouldn't come down. The master cylinder seems to be okay. What do you think it might be?

Answer: It is most likely either a blockage in the line or a worn brake master cylinder. If you were to remove the line at the master cylinder and at the caliper, could you blow compressed air through it? Be careful with brake fluid; it is very corrosive when it gets on paint.

Question: A year and a half ago (from 78,000 to 88,000 miles), I had the whole brake system replaced, i.e., pad, rotor, and lines. The mechanic is now telling me I need all of those parts replace again. Is this possible?

Answer: No, you should really look for a new mechanic, pads maybe if you drive a ton of miles in stop and go traffic or you're a mail carrier, lines are rarely replaced.

Question: What if your car is going through brake fluid fast and your brakes don't want to work?

Answer: This means that you have a leak in the system and you most likely have air in the brake lines. I recommend having all the brake lines, calipers, and the master cylinder checked for leaks. I highly recommend having your car towed; this is a very dangerous situation, and the problem needs to be fixed before the car is driven.

Question: Does an emergency brake in a car not work after an accident?

Answer: It all depends on where you got hit, where the emergency brake is located and if you have electronic emergency brakes.

© 2011 Eddie Carrara

Comments

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 29, 2020:

Hi Ken,

I recommend you pull the front calipers apart and inspect them for any sticking or frozen moving parts. It's possible the left front caliper is slow to respond and has a problem. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Ken Rypka on August 26, 2020:

2011 2500 HD silverado. Initial brake application pulls to the right. Immediatley after that you can let go of the steering wheel and the remainder of the stop is perfect.(no more pull)

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 24, 2020:

Hi Paul,

Sorry for the late reply. I recommend you check all slide pins for free movement, if they're sticking or frozen it can cause a soft pedal, and also check to see if the pistons retract normally in each caliper. Keep me posted on what you find or if you have more questions, thanks.

Paul on August 16, 2020:

My pedal starts stopping the car when first hit after about a half inch. The stopping feels ok but the pedal is really easy. The car will stop straight but the pedal is not hard until about half way down. Then it is hard. Plenty of fluid, all disc brakes, valves on line, to stop bleed back, What should I check?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 16, 2020:

Hi Vince,

What did you replace? And is it brake fluid leaking or coolant?

Vince on July 14, 2020:

I just did a brake replacement on my 2003 explorer n now I have brake pressure on my brake pedal,it goes straight to the floor with no force n it's leaking coolant how do I fix it

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 04, 2020:

Hi Tarek,

Do you hear any abnormal noises?

Tarek almasad on June 02, 2020:

I am owning ford mustang v6 2015 when I going reverse and I apply brake the brake buddles go normal but car keeps running ???

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 27, 2020:

Hi David,

I have seen ABS sensors cause issues like this but I highly recommend you have the code pulled, this will point you to the failed part. The system thinks one of your wheels is locking up and the pump runs causing a kick-back in the brake pedal making it difficult to stop. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 24, 2020:

Hi Joe,

Sorry for the late reply. I'm not sure what you're asking. Are you saying that the piston doesn't retract into the caliper completely and is sticking up? If the piston doesn't retract completely you may have to replace the caliper. Maybe you could email me a picture so I can see what you're explaining? Let me know, thanks.

David Wood on May 22, 2020:

My ABS system light came on and when i hit the brakes it wouldn't stop but finally grabbed and truck skidded to a stop. What could cause this?

JoeJr2020 on May 19, 2020:

Mite be an off the wall question but I did rear rotors on 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the driver side piston of the caliper seems to be sitting offset/ higher than the pads even though everything seems lined up, , no rattles no squeaks, the passenger side sits normal. Basically you can see the outer ring of the piston. Any ideas..??

Thank you

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 16, 2020:

What kind of brakes, disc or drum?

If they are disc, did you clean and lube the caliper slide pins and make sure they move freely? Are any of the rubber flex lines twisted? Did you let the caliper hang by the flex lines when doing the brake job or did you support them with a hook or shelf? Did the pistons retract easily? Did you open the hydraulic lines when doing the brake job? Let me know, thanks.

Have a question on May 15, 2020:

Changed the brakes on mothers car. Now i have spongy brake pedal. And it wont keep pressure. What could be wrong i see no leaks from the master cylinder. And have bled them 2 times

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 08, 2020:

Hi Courage,

How did you bleed the brake system? It is very possible the brake system has air in it and it just needs to be bled out. Let me know, thanks.

courage on May 06, 2020:

hw ar u

i nid ur help i gt a hyundai accet 1997 i changed new master cylinder and booster but still brakes still soft

plz help

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 06, 2020:

Hi Martin,

I recommend you first check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder. If the level is ok it sounds like you may have a rubber brake line that is deteriorated or a problem with the way the brake line is routed near the wheel. Have you had any brake work done recently? Let me know, thanks.

Martin on April 04, 2020:

I have a 2001 Honda Civic. When the wheels are turned as to make a turn in either way it loses braking ability. The break pedal goes up to the floor. However, this does not happen when the wheels are straight. What could be the issue.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 11, 2020:

Hi Melissa,

I recommend you bring it back to the mechanic and have them go on a road test with you so you can point out your concerns, it's the fastest and most direct way to solve the issue, plus they may not have installed something correctly and it will give them a chance to correct their mistake. Keep me posted on what they find, thanks.

Melissa on March 10, 2020:

Had my breaks changed and a new caliber on 2004 Mercury mariner Still fills like the breaks are still on. It want go please help. Thanks

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 06, 2020:

Hi Rhonda,

It sounds like they may not have connected everything properly, I highly recommend you call the shop and either have the mechanic come to you house to double-check their work or have it towed back to the shop but let the service manager decide how they want to handle the situation, I don't recommend driving it for safety reasons. Let me know what happens and please update me on what was wrong, thanks.

Rhonda Jenkins on March 06, 2020:

I just replaced the master break cylinder on my 2004toyota matrix so I pick up my car driving home it felt like my car was running rough and when I step on break after 30sec, it starts to jerk forwards please help

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 05, 2020:

Hi KK,

If I were to guess (and I am guessing lol) it sounds like you have a caliper that is sticking (see the video above titled "When A Car Makes A Rumbling Noise and Shakes While Driving"). A sticking caliper usually starts acting up after driving for a while and most mechanics won't test drive the vehicle long enough to verify the problem. When this happens again, check each wheel for excessive heat or brake dust on the rim, see the video for an example. Let me know if this helps, and if you find that you have a sticking caliper, you better come back here and let me know, lol. I'm counting on you :)

kk on March 05, 2020:

I have a 2005 gmc sierra lifted. When I start slowing after driving 60-70 MPH the whole cab shakes horribly also the brakes just randomly dont work. I have now taken to Chevy Dealership and a local mechanic and everyone says the brakes are good??? Help

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 04, 2020:

Hi Spencer,

It sounds like something is leaking onto the brake system at that wheel. I recommend you have it towed and checked out. it's possible a brake line is leaking or maybe a CV boot let go and is flinging grease. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Spencer on March 02, 2020:

Hey Eddie. I have a 2011 Kia Sorento. A couple days ago my wife was driving and she said the car started to shake when pushing in the break (the harder she pushed would increase vibration). Also had trouble accelerating right after and had burning type smell with smoke and black oily residue on driver side tires and door. Any suggestions?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 07, 2020:

Hi H T Srinivasa Gowda,

It sounds to me like you have a few calipers sticking but I'm not sure what is causing them to stick. Calipers can freeze up because of the lack of lubrication/service, clogged brake lines or a failed component like a master cylinder, brake line, or proportioning valve. I recommend you have the calipers checked for free movement first because that would be the most likely cause. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 07, 2020:

Hi Addison,

It sounds to me like you have a frozen caliper so I recommend you jack up each wheel and see which one doesn't spin freely. If you have all-wheel drive you may need to have all 4 wheels off the ground at the same time. I recommend you start with the wheel that is making noise. You will probably need to replace the caliper once you figure out which one is causing the issue. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 07, 2020:

Hi Chris,

Have you tried adjusting the rear brake shoes? If the shoes are adjusted to the point where they slightly drag on the drum and then back them of one or two notches this should make a difference. If they are adjusted properly I recommend you bench bleed the master and replace ant rubber flex lines in the system, sometimes they collapse internally and cause restrictions. Let me know if this helps.

Chris Rawlings on January 07, 2020:

I got a BMW bike, with custom Trike conversion has Modified Commodore Axle Diff & VS drum Rear brakes, can't get drum brakes to work properly, tried 3 master cylinders, get get enough B.pressure, shoud inline residual brake valves fix this also what size master Cylinder should I used, will a motorcycle one do it.

Grateful if anyone has advice, Chris, Tasmania,Australia

Addison on January 06, 2020:

My breaks engage when I press the break pedal, but don't fully let go when I remove my foot from the pedal. It has gotten to the point where when I try and reverse, I have to use the gas, otherwise the car wont move. I believe it is my front right break, as I need to change to break pad because I can here it scraping.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 11, 2019:

Hi Michael,

Most likely the front rotors are warped and either need to be resurfaced or replaced depending on their condition. Let me know if you have more questions, thanks.

Michael on November 10, 2019:

Hi I have a 2013 Chrysler 200 when I press the breaks it feels like it grabs and let’s go kinda pulsing I made sure no air in lines replaced break fluid and pads it still does it what could be the issue

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 06, 2019:

Hi Ollie,

This is a very unusual problem but the first thing I recommend you do is; when the situation happens, pull over and walk around outside the vehicle to each wheel and notice if anyone of them is extremely hot. It's possible you have a caliper starting to stick and it causing this problem. Let me know what you find.

Ollie on November 02, 2019:

I have a 2014 1.6d skoda octavia 105000kms a few weeks ago while driving front brake would engage for about 10secs and pull the car to the left without me touching the pedal .and got a lot worse as time went on .3 mechanics later and a lot of cash 1 said abs .second said brake servo and 3rd said i was imagining it.the car struggles through the gears and pedal is alot harder to press.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 01, 2019:

Hi Padro,

Most likely you have a caliper or two that the slide pins are frozen. When slide pins freeze up the caliper extends to apply the brakes but does not return to the resting position so the next time you apply the brakes the caliper piston has to travel a lot further to apply pressure to the brake pads which causes the brake pedal to feel soft. I'm not absolutely sure this is your problem but if it were my car this is what I would look at first, you'll need to disassemble the calipers to check them and if all the calipers are free and working as designed you most likely have an internal leak inside the brake master cylinder. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Pedro on October 31, 2019:

I have a 1998 Opel Astra ,my brake pedal goes right down to the floor i hot to pump the brakes to stop or slow down. What could be the problem there is no leaks and im not losing fluid

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 29, 2019:

Hi Josh,

If your brake pedal felt like this before the brakes were replaced it's possible you have a frozen caliper pin/pins, did you inspect all calipers slide pins? If all the calipers are moving freely and the pads are not hanging up in the calipers I recommend you gravity bleed the brakes. Maybe do a YouTube search for a demonstration. You may have air in the lines so you just need to remove it.

Josh on October 27, 2019:

I have a 1999 dodge ram 1500 van i changed the brakes under the front and bleed the brakes numerous of times but still has no brakes the brake pedal is really soft and also pulls to the right when mashing the brake pedal what could be the problem

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 23, 2019:

Hi Tammy,

I have come across some brake light switches that were out of spec (to much pressure against the brake pedal) which cause the brakes to lock up after driving for a while. I'm not sure how it would get out of adjustment but it is something to look into. Let me know if this helps.

Tammy on October 23, 2019:

I have some break issues I've replaced break pads then the fluid cap then caliburs then the lines and still breaks or caleburs locking up

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 15, 2019:

Hi Sewela,

Your brake light switch may be faulty, I recommend you start by checking to see if your brake lights are on when this happens, if they are, most likely the switch is no good.

sewela on October 07, 2019:

Hi Eddie, When i am driving my car it just start slowing down and give me a message that i must release the breaks and when my foot is not on the brake pedal then i stop and turn off the engine and pump my brake then it not start moving what might be the causes for this?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 17, 2019:

Hi Aidanking,

I can't help, you'll need to have a brake specialist take a look and diagnose it, I also recommend you have it towed because it's not safe to drive like that. Sorry, I don't have a better answer :(

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 17, 2019:

Hi Freddy,

The rubber brake lines at the calipers may be deteriorated inside, you could try replacing them first and see if it helps.

Freddy on September 15, 2019:

Hello I have a Honda Accord ex 94 my rear brakes get stack I replaced master cilinder both calipers brake pads and it's good for one day and next day they stack again what you think is problem

Aidanking1 on September 04, 2019:

Hi can you help I have a 2008 BMW X5,I can slow down gradually but have no emergency break.changed my front drivers side Caliper at a garage on instruction but no difference?

Susan on September 01, 2019:

We have an 11 Ford Fusion with no breaks. Have replaced hydronic ABS, master cylinder, a break line a caliper. 3 mechanics have worked on finding the problem for three weeks and were stumped and afraid now. They did a full bleed also. Any brilliant mechanics have an idea?! PLEASE!

Richard on August 31, 2019:

I have a 2018 Hyundai sonata, I had some shaking when I apply the brakes. It Feels like I have warped rotors. I just replace the pads and rotors and I’m still getting the shakes. Please help

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 21, 2019:

Hi Victor,

Did you bleed the brakes? Are you all set now?

Victor on August 14, 2019:

2014 honda crv replace the passenger rear caliper and hokes, but fluid is not coming out,andthe caliper is not engaging

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 24, 2019:

Hi Dennis,

I recommend you start by checking the brake fluid level, if it's good and topped off then you probably have sticking calipers. You'll need to check all calipers for normal operation by removing each caliper and check the pistons and slide pins for free movement. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 24, 2019:

Hey, great news Ronbo! Thanks for coming back to update me on your findings, I really appreciate it :)

Ronbo1425 on July 19, 2019:

My thanks to you Eddie. your diagnosis on my brake problem was spot on. I checked the left front wheel sensor and found it to be bad. I replaced it and solved the problem.

Dennis on July 17, 2019:

I've got a 2004 chevy impala it set for a while and now the break pedal goes almost to the floor before it stops. What is the cause of thi?

Teddy on July 12, 2019:

Hi my toyota corolla RXi shape handbrake was adjusted and and it is still a bit loose and when im braking my car shakes way too much and i can feel my brake pedal bumpy when applying brakes, what could really be the issue?

Car Trends on July 09, 2019:

Thanks for sharing this information regarding cars breaks. I really found this very helpful. And your blog is very helpful for us.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 08, 2019:

Hi Zack,

The air is getting in somewhere, you just need to find out where or have a skilled mechanic take a look. Sometimes mechanics have experience with these types of issues, and if you find an oldtimer they just might have a good answer on how to fix it.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 08, 2019:

Hi Hectpr,

It sounds like you caliper is sticking and may need to be replaced but I recommend you get a mechanics opinion first just in case I'm wrong.

zack on July 03, 2019:

12 chevy 1500 the front driver has aerated fluid no matter how many times it has been bled.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 26, 2019:

Hi Freddy,

Either your caliper piston is frozen or you have a collapsed rubber brake line internally. I recommend checking the caliper piston movement first, it's a quick check, if it's ok, try changing the rubber brake line going to the caliper. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Freddy on June 26, 2019:

Hi, I replaced my rotors and brake pads in january 2019. Recently my left front tire squeals when driving. I checked both left and right break pads, turns out the left wore out faster. Any ideas?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 19, 2019:

Hi Ronbo,

Usually, a sensor will cause that type of issue, is there any debris on any of the sensors or rings like grease left over from the repair?

Ronbo1425 on June 19, 2019:

I have a 2005 chevy silverado 5.3L 4wd crew cab. Just before coming to a complete stop the brake pedal goes down a little further and a noise like a growl is heard (ABS motor?). The brakes seem fine otherwise. This happened after I had a leaking brake line replaced and they bled the brakes. could there be air in the ABS modulator?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 12, 2019:

Hi Frank,

No, most likely the caliper is sticking or the brake light switch is misadjusted causing slight pressure on the pads, once the brakes heat up from dragging the fluid expands and causes the calipers to seize, once it cools they release. Check the brake light switch and make sure none of your calipers are frozen and slide freely. Keep me posted on what you find.

frank scisinger on June 06, 2019:

23 t bucket just installed disc on rear can drive 5 miles rear heats up and brakes grab drag car will stop on its own could it b cheap rotors steel from china

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 28, 2019:

Hi Dannyel,

If this happens only after you used the parking brake, most likely the parking brake is sticking and is causing the vibration. I recommend you have someone check your parking brakes on both rear wheels to make sure everything is moving and releasing freely. Most likely NOT a transmission problem.

Dannyel J on May 23, 2019:

Ok I’m at a loss and need some guidance. I had my vehicle (Ford Escape 2015) parked with the engine running I attempted to pull out (put the vehicle in drive) and realized I had my park/emergency brake set. The vehicle did not move at all. After this happened I heard a sound like a belt squealing—I drove approx 5-6 miles without any problems until I came to a stop at a red light. Any time I apply the foot brake with the vehicle in any gear the vehicle shutters somewhats likes it’s jumping. If I don’t use the brake everything is fine. I started shifting into neutral before a stop

so it’s wasnt in gear and it doesn’t shake. It makes the shaking in reverse or any other gear except neutral or park. I didn’t notice any problem with the vehicle shifting through gear. What could causes this?!? Could the brakes be sticking? Ive had someone say it could be the transmission. Any suggestions? It runs as normal as far as shifting gears and pulling. It’s does this in the “shift” or automatic there isn’t a difference.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 13, 2019:

Hi Patrick,

Either the caliper slide pins are starting to stick and need service or the caliper piston is starting to freeze up and may need to be replaced.

Patrick mensah on May 08, 2019:

Question: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?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 15, 2019:

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?

Tom on April 15, 2019:

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

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 12, 2019:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 12, 2019:

Hi Jon,

The check engine light should not be on, period!

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 12, 2019:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 12, 2019:

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.

Betty McCoy on March 12, 2019:

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?

Jon on March 11, 2019:

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.

Ridge S on March 11, 2019:

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?

Arlene Witherly on March 08, 2019:

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

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on February 25, 2019:

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.

Rasika on February 25, 2019:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on February 06, 2019:

Hi Lance,

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

Lance on February 03, 2019:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 30, 2019:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 30, 2019:

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.

Hubpagescomolayinka on January 29, 2019:

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

Scott on January 29, 2019:

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

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 02, 2019:

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.

Paulette on January 01, 2019:

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

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 27, 2018:

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?

Christina on December 21, 2018:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 17, 2018:

Hi Rhonda,

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

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 12, 2018:

I Arekaybee,

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

arekaybee on December 12, 2018:

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.

Rhonda on December 11, 2018:

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

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 05, 2018:

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.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 05, 2018:

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.

Emjay on December 04, 2018:

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

Saif. on December 04, 2018:

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. ?

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