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Why are my brakes soft?

The most common causes of soft, spongy brakes are:

  • Air in the brake lines - A leak somewhere in the brake system can allow air into the system. Because air compresses, it applies less pressure to the brakes than hydraulic fluid normally does. The result: you need to press your brake pedal further down toward the floor. The solution? One or more Brake Fluid Services may be needed to remediate the issues.
  • Brake adjustment problem - Brakes should automatically adjust as they wear down, but this self-adjusting function can fail. The solution? Brake shoe service.

Either way, a Brake Inspection is the first step to making your mushy pedal feel normal again.

While most spongy brakes are caused by some kind of brake fluid problem, there are several parts of your brake system where that leak or pressure disruption could originate.

Spongy brake causes that can be fixed with routine maintenance include:

  • Low brake fluid - A common cause of spongy brakes. Brake fluid levels fall over time (even without leaks), and air enters your brake lines to fill the void. If there’s no leak involved, bleeding the brake lines (draining enough fluid to evacuate the air) and topping off the fluid will restore proper hydraulic pressure.
  • Moisture in the system - When there is too much moisture in the system, the brake fluid can get too hot and cause what is known as a brake pedal fade. The solution? Test the brake fluid and replace if needed.

Spongy brake causes that need diagnosis and repair include:

  • Leaking brake fluid
  • Master cylinder failure - this part must be working perfectly to deliver correct pressure from the pedal to the brakes.
  • ABS hydraulic assembly problems
  • Leaking calipers (on disc brakes)
  • Brake shoe adjustment problems (on drum brakes)

From the master cylinder to the calipers and brake shoes, Midas technicians know all the places where spongy brakes start. We’ll tell you what needs work now (and what can wait), and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.

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