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3 Causes of a Spongy Brake Pedal | Stopmaster Brake Service

  • By Tim Flinders
  • 23 May, 2017

When you put your foot down on your car's brake pedal, it should feel firm and resistant. That's why a soft, spongy-feeling brake pedal that doesn't resist pressure and goes straight to the floor is a common sign that something's gone wrong in your brake system.

Inside your brake lines is a liquid called brake fluid, which transfers the force of you hitting the brake pedal to the brake rotors and pads to immobilise your car. When there's a problem with this fluid, it won't transfer enough pressure to stop the vehicle.

If your brake feels spongy underfoot, here are three possible brake fluid related problems you could be facing.

Leaks in the Brake Lines

One of the most common causes of a spongy brake pedal is a brake line leak. When brake fluid leaks out of holes in the lines, the fluid levels become too low to apply adequate force to the brake pads. This makes the brake pedal feel soft underfoot with little to no resistance.

Some of the main causes of fluid leakage include damage from road debris, corrosion from adverse weather or simple wear and tear. Sometimes leaks will be immediately obvious; other times, they'll only be visible under close inspection. Many drivers are first alerted to a fluid leak by their brake warning light.

If you do have a leak in your brake lines, it's important to have them repaired or replaced immediately. If all your brake fluid leaks out from the holes, your car won't be able to stop. Once the brake lines are fixed, a simple fluid top up will have your brake system in working order again.

Air in the Brake Lines

Brake fluid is the only substance that should be in your brake lines. Air is not a welcome addition. As with leakages, when air gets into the brake system, the pedal will feel spongy because there won't be enough fluid to transfer all the force from the pedal to the brake pads.

One potential cause of air in the system is natural wear and tear of your brake pads. The thinner the pads get, the more fluid is needed to transfer the force of your pedal. If there's not enough fluid, you can end up with a bubble of air in your lines. The best fix for this is brake pad replacement.

Another possible reason is water contamination. Brake fluid absorbs water, and when the brake lines heat up, this water can boil into gas. This is even more likely to happen when there's a fault with your car that causes excess friction, such as a stuck caliper. Any faults will need to be resolved to prevent this problem from reoccurring.

Master Cylinder Wear

The master cylinder is the part of your braking system that pushes the fluid through the brake lines. It does this by converting the force of your foot pushing the pedal into hydraulic pressure that moves the fluid. Just like line wear can cause brake fluid leakage, so can a worn master cylinder. As with any drop in fluid, leaks from worn cylinder seals will lead to insufficient pressure from the pedals and cause a spongy feel.

Worn cylinders aren't usually worth repairing because they're difficult to fix without removing the corrosion-resistant coating. If your master cylinder isn't working as intended and the cause is deemed to be wear, the best fix is to have the cylinder replaced by an expert.

If your brake pedal is feeling spongy or soft, get in touch with Stopmaster Brake Service at your earliest convenience to fix the problem before it causes an accident.

By Tim Flinders 18 Aug, 2017

Having full control over your car is essential to staying safe on the roads. If your brakes become worn or faulty, your risk of being involved in an accident could increase because you can no longer stop quickly enough to avoid a collision. To protect yourself and your family, you need to get your brakes checked regularly. Here are a few situations in which you should consider getting your brakes checked out by a professional.

By Tim Flinders 23 May, 2017

When you put your foot down on your car's brake pedal, it should feel firm and resistant. That's why a soft, spongy-feeling brake pedal that doesn't resist pressure and goes straight to the floor is a common sign that something's gone wrong in your brake system.

Inside your brake lines is a liquid called brake fluid, which transfers the force of you hitting the brake pedal to the brake rotors and pads to immobilise your car. When there's a problem with this fluid, it won't transfer enough pressure to stop the vehicle.

If your brake feels spongy underfoot, here are three possible brake fluid related problems you could be facing.

By Website Team Technicians 11 Nov, 2015

Picture yourself driving to your office. You didn't hear your alarm clock, so you try to make up for lost time by subtly accelerating along back roads. You know the road turns sharply several kilometres ahead, and you wisely decide to decrease your speed in preparation.

But when your foot hits the brake pedal, nothing happens. The car continues to hurtle along the road at high speeds, and your heart races along even faster. For a few brief seconds, you wonder if this is how you'll die.

Don't panic just yet.

Although complete brake failure rarely occurs, you can take steps to slow your vehicle to a safe, albeit bumpy stop.

By Website Team Technicians 12 Jun, 2015

Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid. Most likely, the fluid your car uses comes from a glycol-ether base. Glycol-ether solvents combine with other elements to change a liquid's boiling point.

Some brake fluid uses a mineral oil base. This base comes from the process of distilling petroleum and other fuel types. This transparent, odourless liquid reduces brake fluid's conductivity.

By Website Team Technicians 12 Jun, 2015
If your car makes a high-pitched squealing noise when you stop, there's a good chance your brakes make that sound. Brake pads sit on top of the actual brakes to keep them safe. When brake pads wear down, the factory-included indicator meets your car's rotor. This meeting causes that annoying sound. If left unchecked, your brake pads can wear out completely, causing costly repairs and safety problems.

Once you hear that tell-tale squeal, make sure to replace your brake pads within the next couple of weeks (if you can bear the noise that long).
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