A properly functioning brake pedal should feel firm when you press it. A soft or spongy brake pedal describes a pedal that does not have the proper amount of firmness or resistance when you press it. A spongy brake pedal is dangerous for you, your passengers, and other drivers.
Here are some causes of a soft or spongy brake pedal.
Hydraulic Issues or Air in the Brake Line
The most common cause of a soft brake pedal is air in the system. Your vehicle’s braking system relies on a hydraulic system and brake fluid. Brake fluid is incompressible, meaning it transmits 100% of the stopping force to the four brakes when the pedal is pressed. Air, on the other hand, is compressible, meaning it transmits hardly any force to the brakes.
When you step on the brakes, your foot compresses the air first, which takes time and delays your stopping time. The good news is that the fix is simple. Our ASE Certified technicians can bleed the brake system on your vehicle to flush out any air bubbles. We’ll fill your system with fresh brake fluid after we bleed the system.
Damaged Brake Line
Brake lines are made of steel and can rust over time. This rust can create holes in the lines and cause the inside of the tubing to collapse into the brake line. This damage can cause brake fluid to leak as a result. Brake fluid is what helps maintains pressure within your vehicle’s hydraulic system. Leaking brake fluid can lead to a loss of hydraulic pressure, which may make your brake pedal feel spongy when you press it.
Mechanical Brake Problems
Braking systems are made of many mechanical parts, including brake rotors, drums, calipers, pads, cages, and carriers. The most common mechanical brake failure is seized calipers, which can make it feel like air in the brake lines, resulting in a soft or spongy brake pedal.
Another common mechanical problem that can lead to a spongy brake pedal is a worn master cylinder. The master cylinder holds brake fluid and feeds it to the front and rear brakes. A worn-out master cylinder can leak brake fluid, causing your brakes to drop in hydraulic pressure. This drop in pressure may make your brake pedal feel soft.
Schedule Brake Inspection Service with McCullough NAPA Auto Care
A soft or spongy brake pedal can increase braking time and distance. This can make stopping in an emergency all the more dangerous. If you notice that your brake pedal is not as resistant as it once was when you press it, we urge you to schedule service with McCullough NAPA. Our ASE Certified technicians will inspect your brake system to determine the cause of your spongy brake and make repairs as needed.