avoiding the soccer mom minivan

Two Common Causes Of Brake System Problems

When you push the brake pedal in your car and it feels soft or spongy under your foot, it may mean that your brakes need repair. The brake pedal should always be firm and consistent when you press it, and any change in the normal resistance indicates problems with the pressure in the system. There are a few common causes of brake problems, and understanding what they are may help you troubleshoot the issue and keep yourself safe on the road.

Wheel Cylinder Damage

When you have drum brakes, the wheel cylinders are a key part of that brake system. The cylinders are vulnerable to corrosion inside. When that happens, the piston inside can actually allow brake fluid to seep past the seals. If your wheel cylinders are already showing signs of wear, you should have your brake mechanic evaluate them for signs of leaks. The wheel cylinders will need to be replaced if the pistons are damaged and allowing brake fluid to leak out of the system. Address this quickly because the problem could lead to complete brake failure.

Brake Line Issues

The brake lines are necessary for carrying the brake fluid through the system. They help to maintain the pressure in the braking system, which is essential for proper braking response. Two common problems with brake lines include physical damage and air in the lines.

  • If your brake lines are punctured or worn through, you'll see brake fluid leaking under the car. This is a common problem for cars with steel brake lines, especially in areas where salt is used for ice control on the roads. Salt can cause the steel lines to rust, which can cause puncture holes and wear that allows fluid to seep out. Lift the car on a jack so you can get underneath it. Follow the path of the brake lines under the car so you can look for any signs of moisture. If you see seeping or moisture, it means the line is likely leaking. You can fix this problem by replacing the damaged lines with new ones.
  • Air pockets in the lines are equally problematic. Since your brake system is so dependent on precise pressure, any air pockets that disrupt that pressure can interfere with the brake system operation. If you recently had your brakes replaced, there's a chance that the bleeding wasn't fully complete. That can leave a few residual air bubbles in the system that may lead to pressure drops. Ask your brake mechanic about bleeding the brakes to make sure that you don't have any residual air in the lines.