Your car’s brakes will experience gradual wear and tear over time, but other issues can have an impact on the lifespan of your brakes. 

If not properly rectified, a brake problem could put you in danger when driving. 

Read on and learn 6 of the most common brake problems you could encounter, and what you should do when they occur. 


The Brake Pedal Is Soft

If your car’s brake pedal feels soft when you push down on it, there could be a leak in the brake system. You should not drive your car until the leak has been fixed and the problem causing the leak has been resolved - even if your vehicle is still stopping fine.

To determine if there is a leak, you should inspect the brake fluid level to see whether or not there is enough fluid in the reservoir. You can also look under your car for a colourless liquid, as this could indicate that there is a brake fluid leak. 

Know that your brake fluid can ‘thin’ over time, meaning it will absorb less moisture, which can reduce performance and cause the brake pedal to pulsate. 

Without brake fluid, your brakes won’t work, so make sure you have your car’s brake fluid levels topped up by a professional mechanic when needed.


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Brake Fluid Replacement


Please note that a leak is not the only reason your brake pedal could feel soft - it could be the case that there is air in the brake lines or a problem with the hydraulic cylinder

To ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive, you should book an appointment with a professional mechanic as soon as possible so that they can determine the exact cause of the problem.


The Brake Pedal Touches The Floor

You should also have your vehicle looked at if the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor when you push on it lightly.

When the brakes are working correctly, the brake pedal will not depress all the way to the floor when the brakes are applied. Whilst a brake fluid leak could be the cause, there could be a problem with the brake master cylinder

There are two sets of seals on the brake master cylinder, and an interior leak can occur if these seals wear out. If this is the case for you, then the brake master cylinder will need to be replaced. 

If your vehicle uses an anti-lock braking system, then a leak in the ABS unit could also be causing the brake pedal to sink. 

Whatever the cause, you should have your vehicle looked at by an expert mechanic so that they can ensure your vehicle is safe to drive. 


The Brakes Are Squeaking

If your brakes are squeaking when you push on the pedal, then you should have your vehicle looked at by a specialist mechanic as soon as you can. 

A squeaking, groaning or grinding noise could be the result of a damaged drum, spring, brake pad, brake lining, or a loose wheel bearing. A mechanic will be able to inspect the car and determine the cause for you, so that you can drive with confidence in your vehicle.

You may need to book a brake pad replacement if you hear this squeaking regularly. 


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Front Brakes (Pads)


The Brake Pedal Is Pulsing Up and Down

Brake pulsation can be caused by warped rotors and brake discs. The friction produced when a brake caliper squeezes the rotor between the brake pads is what enables your car to stop or slow down. This can cause the rotors to overheat, or even warp if they overheat and are then driven through a puddle. 

As a result, brake pads can skip or grab as they move over the surface of the rotor, thereby producing pulsations through the pedal. Though, this can also be caused by the ABS system working as normal if you brake hard whilst driving in wet weather. This should not occur when braking normally on a dry road surface. 

If your rotors are warped or high spots have formed, then you will need to have the rotors resurfaced - or replaced if the warping is severe.


The Car Is Pulling to The Side

There could be a problem with the braking system if the car pulls to one side when you brake. 

A frozen caliper could be causing issues with your brakes. A feature of disc brakes, calipers squeeze two pads against a rotor in order to create enough friction to slow the car down. Brake calipers can corrode and rust over time without proper maintenance, which can put uneven pressure on the brake pads. This, in turn, can make the car pull to the left or the right. 

Whilst it is possible to clean and lubricate the caliper mechanism yourself using a maintenance kit, this can be a complicated process. Not to mention that the caliper itself may need to be replaced altogether, and so cleaning the part might be a pointless endeavour if this is the case. Best to have the part checked out by a professional garage so that you know for certain that the part is fixed. 

Alternatively, you may need to have your wheels realigned if the car shudders when braking at high speeds. You can test if wheel alignment is the issue by driving at a higher speed when there are no other vehicles around. 

Take your hands off the steering wheel for a moment. Does the car pull to the left or the right? If so, then it is likely that your vehicle will need to be inspected by a professional mechanic, who will determine if your car needs a two-wheel or four-wheel alignment. 


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Front Wheel Alignment


The Car Is Shaking

When the brake discs wear out, this can cause the car to shake when braking. You will likely experience a vibration - sometimes referred to as brake shudder - when the brake pads come into contact with worn parts of the discs. You can feel these vibrations through the brake pedal, the steering wheel, and sometimes throughout the car itself. 

A steering wheel that shakes or vibrates when you slow down or stop the car may mean that you need to have the front rotors resurfaced or replaced, as they could have warped due to excessive heat. You may also need to have your brake discs replaced. 

Another cause of the shaking could be worn or dirty brake pads. You can visually inspect the brake pads to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced. If so, you should arrange for this work to be performed as soon as possible. 

When the brake pads become filled with dirt and oil, this can stick to the rotors, which in turn can cause the vehicle to shake when you press on the brakes. 

Similarly, if the brake pads are damaged or warped, this will cause an additional grinding noise when you brake. Worn brake pads will need to be replaced as soon as possible, as driving with worn brake pads can be dangerous.


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Front Brakes (Discs & Pads)


We hope that you have enjoyed reading about some of the most common brake problems that you could encounter. If you would like to learn more about brakes, why not read about how long brake pads and discs last, or how much these parts cost?