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Troubleshooting The Brake System


Brakes acting funny? Better check here before it's too late.
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» Part 1: Braking symptoms
» Part 2: More symptoms
» Part 3: More symptoms
 

The brake system is probably the most important system in your vehicle. There's no sense in making the car go if you can't make the car stop. Over the years the brake system has evolved to be almost fool proof and with the introduction of the dual master cylinder, the possibility of total brake failure has virtually been eliminated.

Still, things can go wrong that will adversely effect braking performance and increase the likelihood of a brake related accident. Here I will give you the most common problems that can occur and the possible causes of those problems. If at any point you feel that you're in over your head, take the car to a professional mechanic and let them do any diagnosis and repairs.

  • Brake Pedal Goes To The Floor When It Is Depressed:
    When the brakes are applied the pedal goes almost completely to the floor. The vehicle may not stop or needs a lot of distance to come to a stop.

    Possible causes:
    1. Brake fluid is very low: Check the master cylinder fluid level and fill to the marked level.

    2. The Master Cylinder is bad: Replace master cylinder.

    3. Air in the hydraulic system: Bleed hydraulic system

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  • The Brakes Hardly Stop The Car Or Won't Hold It At A Stop:
    When the brakes are applied the car barely stops. When at a stop you need to apply a lot of pressure to keep the car stopped.

    Possible causes:
    1. Brake fluid is very low: Check the master cylinder fluid level and fill to the marked level.

    2. The Master Cylinder is bad: Replace master cylinder.

    3. Air in the hydraulic system: Bleed hydraulic system

    4. Brake pads and/or brake shoes are worn out: Replace the brake pads/shoes as required.

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  • Brake Pedal Is Very Hard To Push Down:
    The brake pedal requires a lot of force to apply. The pedal is extremely hard and you almost need to use both feet to stop the car. The problem will most likely occur without warning.

    Possible causes:
    1. Bad power brake booster: Replace power brake booster.

    2. No vacuum to power brake booster: Inspect and replace vacuum line as required.

    3. Brake line is pinched: Replace brake line.

    4. Kid's toy is stuck under the brake pedal: Remove anything that's under the brake pedal. Insure floor mats are not interfering with pedal movement.

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  • Brake Pedal Fades:
    The brake pedal stops fine, but slowly drifts down to the floor. This may or may not be constant and gets worse the more the brakes are used, such as in heavy, stop and go traffic.

    Possible causes:
    1. The brake pads/shoes are the wrong type or of poor quality: Replace brake pads/shoes with the proper type and quality.

    2. Brakes are overheating due to dragging: Have the brakes serviced to free any sticking or worn components.

    3. Brakes are overheating due to restricted airflow: Remove any obstructions such as brake dust shields or incorrect wheel types.

    4. Brake fluid is contaminated with water, or has the wrong type of brake fluid: Replace the brake fluid with the fresh fluid of the proper type.

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  • Brake Pedal Moves Too Far To Apply The Brakes:
    When you step on the brake pedal, the pedal goes too far down before the brakes apply. This seems like it's getting worse as time goes by.

    Possible causes:
    1. Brake fluid is very low: Check the master cylinder fluid level and fill to the marked level.

    2. Brake fluid is contaminated with water, or has the wrong type of brake fluid: Replace the brake fluid with the fresh fluid of the proper type.

    3. Air in the hydraulic system: Bleed hydraulic system

    4. Brake pads and/or brake shoes are worn out: Replace the brake pads/shoes as required.

    5. Bad power brake booster or booster check valve: Replace power brake booster or check valve.

More...
»
Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3

Additional Information provided courtesy of
ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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