5 Common Brake Problems in Vehicles

Problems in brake system could be daunting if you do not know the exact reasons behind them. In this post, we will cover 5 most common brake issues so that you can understand what the cause of the problem before having a mechanic replaced it. 

1. Car Shaking When Braking

If the whole vehicle shakes when you are braking, it might be the problem with your rear brakes. As normal, shaking in the front part would be noticed in the steering wheel, while shaking caused in the rear might have an impact on the whole car.

To know whether the rear brakes are the cause, you have to take a test with this part independently. A common way to check the rear drum brakes is to use the parking brake slightly while driving as they apply the drum brak​drum brakes​​​es in the rear.

To perform this test, you should drive the car to a remote place with no traffic at the speed of about 40 miles an hour. Then push and hold the release button at the end of the emergency brake handle, while pulling up on the handle enough for the rear brakes to grab lightly. If this is the cause of the issue, you would fix it by replacing the rear drums or resurfacing them.

If your car is made with rear disc brakes, this process might not work as several models and makes have a separate emergency brake that is not connected to the caliper and rear rotor, but to a drum in the rear rotors. In this case, it is almost impossible to separate the rear brakes.

2. Soft Brake Pedal

A soft brake pedal is considered as a serious brake problem. When you feel that the brake pedal is squishy, sinks to the floor with no or little resistance, and does not stop on the way down if you do not pump it, do not drive any further to avoid any potentially dangerous situations.

When a brake pedal sinks to the floor or gets soft, it is basically the result of an internal or external leakage in the braking system, especially the master cylinder. This could be checked by looking that the brake fluid in the system.

The only way to deal with a faulty master cylinder is replacing it with a new one. You should not waste your time attempting to rebuild it as this is an essential part in your vehicle.

3. Car Pulling to One Side When Braking

A vehicle that pulls to one side could be irritating and also dangerous. There are several factors that cause this braking problem, including the tires and a frozen caliper (which is more common). Over time, the caliper could freeze up slowly, a process that could be ignored for a long period of time. To fix this issue, you will need to replace with a new caliper.

Bad or broken belts in the front tires might be a cause of pulling to one side when braking. And the consequence would be amplified when you step on the brakes. In general, the contact surfaces of the tires will expand while braking, which places more pressure on a bad tire and causes the pull to worsen. In these cases, you should replace the tires or try rotating the front tires to the rear of your car.

4. Steering Wheel Shaking When Braking

This is actually a very common brake problem on all models and makes, especially when you are driving at high speeds.

There are several possible causes of this issue, including pad impressions, slight irregularities (hot spots) on the rotors due to excessive heat, or the front rotors being warped. If your vehicle is idle for a long time without running, moisture from high humidity or rain would make the rotors to rust, but not for the patch of rotor surface, which would cause the brakes to shake.

This brake shaking could be fixed simply by having the rotors replaced (more expensive) or resurfaced (cheaper). You can resurface your rotors when they still have enough thickness. Every rotor is made with a minimum specification for thickness, which is often stamped on the rotor next to the hub. You should use a vernier caliper or micrometer to measure the thinnest point of the rotor to know if it could be resurfaced or not.

5. Brake Pedal Pulsing Up and Down When Braking

If the brake pedal in your car pulses up and down when you apply the brakes, then the problem might be caused by the rotors being out of true or warped. As a rotor ages, it goes through the cooling and heating process a lot of times, so it is inevitable to lose its trueness or shape. If you drive a lot on the highway and find it hard to use your brakes, you would possibly deal with this issue many times in your life.

In general, it is simple to fix this problem by replacing the rotors, or resurfacing them if they are thick enough. If you perform both these processes and the brake pads are more than half worn, then it is worth replacing the pads at the same time. This could save you a lot of time and money later as pads are consumable items and wear out easily.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this information will help you know where to start when resolving braking problems in your car. If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it or leave any comment in the section below.

John Henry
 

I am John Henry and I have begun to work in automotive industry since the 90s, specializing in car rebuilding and repair. After nearly two decades of working in this complex section, with extensive experience in repairing, troubleshooting and maintaining thousands of cars, I started to work as an auto blogger to share my practical knowledge as well as skills with car owners all around the world through a wide range of articles in online magazine.

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