The Ultimate Guide to Wheel Cylinder Problems and Solutions

Apr 7


Emily Sara

Emily Sara

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Are you looking to book your car with a car services in Reading garage for a wheel cylinder replacement? Wheel cylinders are usually replaced in pairs because if one fails, the other isn't far behind in wear. Replacements are often done in conjunction with brake shoe replacements


The wheel cylinder is critical in your car's drum braking system.

Its function is to apply brake shoes to your brake drums,The Ultimate Guide to Wheel Cylinder Problems and Solutions Articles slowing down your vehicle.

But what precisely is a wheel cylinder?

What could possibly go wrong with it, and what can you do about it, more importantly?

How Does a Wheel Cylinder Work?

The brake wheel cylinder is an integral component of your vehicle's drum braking system.

It is placed at the top of the wheel within the drum brake and is fastened to the drum brake backing plate.

What exactly is the point of it?

It's used to push a set of brake shoes outwards so that they may make contact with a brake drum and slow down your vehicle through friction.

What makes this different from a disc brake?

Unlike a drum brake wheel cylinder, which sends a pushing force to a brake shoe, a disc brake calliper squeezes a brake pad onto each side of a spinning disc to slow the vehicle down.

Is it common to see brake drums?

While most modern vehicles have disc brakes, an older car or small truck's rear tyres are still likely to have drum brakes.

Now that we've covered the essentials, let's look at the construction and role of wheel cylinders. You'll be able to observe how things may go wrong in the future.

What Is a Wheel Cylinder's Purpose?

When you press down on the brake pedal, the force exerted by your foot is transferred to the brake master cylinder.

The master cylinder converts this force into hydraulic pressure, which is subsequently transmitted through a brake line to each wheel cylinder.

The pressure braking fluid in the wheel cylinder pushes the cylinder pistons outward, hitting each brake shoe on the rotating brake drum and bringing the wheel to a standstill.

When the brake pedal is depressed, return springs pull the brake shoes away from the brake drum, forcing the wheel cylinder pistons back into their bore.

It's worth mentioning that this two-piston configuration isn't the only option for a wheel cylinder. Some drum brake systems employ two single-piston wheel cylinders, one at the top and one at the bottom of the drum, each attached to a brake shoe.

Are you seeking to schedule your car in for a wheel cylinder replacement at a car services in Reading garage? It is worth noting that wheel cylinders are frequently replaced in pairs. Because if one fails, the other isn't far behind in wear. Replacements are frequently performed in tandem with brake shoe replacements.

What Are the Symptoms of a Faulty Wheel Cylinder?

It may be difficult to view the wheel cylinder because it is located inside the drum brake.

However, there are certain red flags that something isn't right:

  • You'll notice that braking takes longer since your vehicle's brake response is feeble.
  • Your brake pedal feels spongy, mushy, or sinks to the car's floor.
  • There is a brake fluid leak in your rear brake drum, which gathers at the back wheel.
  • The back drum brakes squeal or lock up.

If any of these problems occur, do not drive your car.

Driving with faulty brakes is dangerous, so look up garages in Reading online and arrange for your car to be towed to a professional car mechanic who will be able to diagnose and repair the problem.

So, what causes a braking wheel cylinder to fail in the first place?

What Goes Wrong When a Wheel Cylinder Fails?

Because there are so many moving parts in a wheel cylinder, it's simple for this busy component to break down.

Here are five of the most frequent ones:

1. Rubber Seal Failure

The wheel cylinders' piston seals and dust boots are made of rubber. These seals become fragile over time and may collapse if exposed to extreme heat or natural wear and tear. When your brakes fail, brake fluid leaks, the hydraulic pressure in the braking system drops, and your braking performance suffer.

2. Worn Pistons

Pistons are made to have a specific diameter in proportion to the cylinder bore size. Pistons, on the other hand, can wear out over time and lose their tight fit in the cylinder bore. If this happens, a piston seal might leak or the piston could rock, causing more wear.

3. Stuck Pistons

The cylinder bore should have a smooth surface. Moisture in the brake fluid, on the other hand, might cause corrosion and pitting in the cylinder bore, causing your piston to stick. A drum brake that won't release is the result of jammed pistons, producing major braking troubles in your drum brake system.

4. Pistons Slipping Out of the Bore

Excessive brake drum wear might cause pistons to completely disengage from the cylinder bore. At this time, your drum brakes will not work.

5. Cracked Cylinder Body

Under pressure, worn wheel cylinders can fracture and break, leaking braking fluid and reducing performance.

Due to its location and interaction with the rest of your drum brake system, replacing or repairing a defective wheel cylinder is a challenging task, despite its look. It is suggested that you look for car garages in Reading and leave it in the hands of a qualified mechanic.