The Anatomy of Healthy Cars: A Service and Repair Blog

Troubleshooting Common Problems With a Car's Brake Pedal

by Brittany Marshall

Your car's brakes are no doubt one of the most important parts of the car, which is why it's never good to overlook problems you might be having with the brakes, many of which affect how the brake pedal works. In some cases, your car may only need a quick fix, but no matter the problem and the solution, you don't want to ignore problems with the brakes. Note a few troubleshooting tips for common problems with a car's brakes so you know what to look for or what to expect from your mechanic.

1. Pedal goes too far down

You may be accustomed to how your car's brake pedal reacts when you apply it, so you know when it's going too far down to stop your car. Not having enough brake fluid is a common reason for this problem; brake fluid means pressure in the braking system and when there isn't enough fluid, you need to put more pressure on the brake pedal for it to work. Contaminated fluid can also be a problem; if the fluid is contaminated then it won't flow as quickly or easily and, in turn, the brake pedal won't work as well as it should. You might have the lines flushed and refilled to address this problem.

2. Pedal is too firm

As with being too soft, you may know when the brake pedal is too firm. This can be caused by an obstruction in the brake lines so that fluid cannot get through as it should. The brake line can also be crimped or pinched due to damage or a collision. Have the line checked and then flushed if there doesn't appear to be any obstruction in the line itself.

3. Pedal goes to the floor, no pressure at all

If the brake pedal goes to the floor with no stopping power at all, this is often caused by having no fluid in the brake lines so that there is no pressure against the brake pads when you depress the pedal. There may also be air in the lines caused by a leak or damage so that there are holes in the line. A master cylinder is a part of the brake line that controls pressure on the pads and when the master cylinder goes bad, there is little pressure in the lines and in turn, the pedal will go right to the floor. Master cylinders usually cannot be repaired and need to be replaced.