Brake Repair - Diagnosing the Problem
While most people know that squeaky brakes indicate tattered brake pads, they may be unaware of what other symptoms mean. When your brake pedal does not seem to be working properly, there are many possibilities that might lead to brake repair.
- The brake pedal feels like it sinks too far down to stop: When this occurs, the first problem to check for is low brake fluid. You can easily fix this by adding fluid if needed. Another possibility is contaminated brake fluid, but there is no way to check for this. You can remove contaminants by bleeding the brakes and adding new fluid. This symptom can also indicate worn pads, but you should experience other warning signs before this happens. If the fluid and pads are fine, you may have a bad brake power booster. Checking the booster requires a special vacuum measuring tool to discern whether the booster needs replacing.
- The brake pedal is too firm and hard to press down: This can also be caused by a brake booster vacuum problem. First, check the vacuum system for leaks. If there are no leaks, the booster itself can be tested by a mechanic. A firm pedal can also indicate an obstruction in the brake lines that may be blocking the brake fluid from some part of the system. There may be a blockage or a pinched line. You can inspect the lines visually and replace any that are damaged. If you have damage, you might need brake repair.
- The brake pedal sinks all the way to the floor: Low brake fluid or air in the fluid may cause this. Check the fluid and bleed the brakes first. If neither remedies works, you may have a bad master cylinder. This will cause a lack of brake pressure, so the pedal goes all the way down, possibly without braking at all. The master cylinder cannot be fixed, only replaced.
- The brakes feel like they are grabbing or pulling: When you push the brake pedal, the brakes should apply smoothly and evenly. If they do not, you may need new pads or new brake discs. Even if only one disc is worn, replace them both simultaneously.
- The brake pedal vibrates when you depress it: In a vehicle with anti lock brakes, the only time this should happen is when you brake really hard. This vibration is normal and keeps the wheels from locking up during hard stops. Any other vibration you feel signifies a repair is needed. Brake pads that have become contaminated with oil can cause vibration. You may need new pads or discs. The vibration may also indicate a problem not with the brakes, but with the carís alignment. Any deteriorated front suspension parts can also create the vibration. Check the suspension parts and get brake repair for anything worn or damaged.
Whenever you experience a sensation during braking that does not seem normal, you should give the problem immediate attention. Your brakes become more likely to fail altogether the longer you wait to repair them. If you are not sure about diagnosing a problem yourself, contact a qualified mechanic for help.
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