When it comes to brakes, trust your feelings! You know how brakes feel when they’re working properly: You press the pedal, and it feels firm. If the brake pedal goes to the floor or goes spongy, it simply doesn’t feel right. When something is as important as your brakes, don’t ignore your feelings. Bring your vehicle  to Jiffy Lube® for a brake inspection and maintenance right away.

Jiffy Lube takes pride in having some of the most highly trained technicians in the industry who  are ready to help you with important questions like:

  • Why does my brake pedal go to the floor?
  • What causes spongy brakes?
  • Why do I have to press so hard on my brakes?

LET’S STOP AND REVIEW HOW BRAKES WORK

Understanding the brake system can help you better maintain it, and better respond when you sense something is wrong.

  1. You press the brake pedal, creating mechanical force that goes through the brake booster.
  2. The brake booster amplifies the mechanical force on the master cylinder.
  3. The master cylinder converts that mechanical force to hydraulic pressure.
  4. Hydraulic fluid (also known as brake fluid) is pressurized through the master cylinder to the brake lines and hoses.
  5. The brake lines and hoses carry the fluid to the wheels.
  6. This is where pressure comes in. If your vehicle has disc brakes (the most common braking system), the fluid causes caliper pistons to press the brake pads. With drum brakes, it’s wheel cylinders that press the brake shoes.
  7. Pressure against the disc or drum brake causes your vehicle  to slow or stop.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can concentrate on your questions.

foot pressing on accelerator pedal

QUESTION: WHY DOES MY BRAKE PEDAL GO TO THE FLOOR?

ANSWER: First of all, this is a serious problem and you shouldn’t drive your vehicle  until the issue is diagnosed and repaired. 

There are several reasons why the brake pedal goes to the floor, including:

  • A fluid leak. When there’s a leak, the right amount of hydraulic fluid won’t make it through the master cylinder and you won’t be able to brake properly.
  • Air in the brake lines. After it’s determined how the air is getting in, the brake lines should be bled to get the air out.
  • Misaligned brake shoes. If your car has rear drum brakes and the brake pedal goes to the floor, the rear brake shoes could be out of alignment.
  • Sediment. Sometimes when new brake pads are installed, sediment can inadvertently be pushed back into the hydraulic system. This sediment can damage the master cylinder.
  • A worn or malfunctioning master cylinder. If the master cylinder isn’t performing as designed, it may need to be replaced.
  • Defective replacement cylinder. If, after the master cylinder has been replaced and the system has been bled, and still your brake pedal goes to the floor, the new master cylinder may be defective. This is rare, but it happens and the new cylinder should be examined.

QUESTION: WHAT CAUSES SPONGY BRAKES?

ANSWER: Often drivers don’t take this problem as seriously as those who ask, “Why does my brake pedal go to the floor?”  After all, the brakes still work. They just feel “funny” (aka “spongy” or “mushy”). But ignoring this problem would be a mistake! It’s not going to get better on its own, and it could be an indicator of serious trouble with your brake system.

Spongy brakes could be caused by several things, including:

  • Air leaking in and interfering with the flow of the hydraulic fluid through the braking system. The source of the leak should be identified and repaired, and then all the air should be bled from the system.
  • A fluid leak. Often when air leaks in, hydraulic fluid is also leaking out. 
  • Old or contaminated fluid. As hydraulic fluid flows through the braking system, it naturally absorbs moisture. Over time, old or contaminated fluid can reduce braking efficiency.

 

QUESTION: WHY DO I HAVE TO PRESS SO HARD ON MY BRAKES?

ANSWER: Maybe you have a bad booster. The brake booster increases the mechanical force from the pedal to the master cylinder. If that extra boost of mechanical force is reduced by a blockage or leak, the pedal won’t engage as engineered and the brakes won’t function properly.

Remember, there are many conditions that can indicate trouble with your brakes, and they all demand attention. Your brakes keep you safe. It’s that simple. When you feel something is wrong, play it safe and have your car towed to one of the 2,000 Jiffy Lube locations across North America.

TURN TO JIFFY LUBE TO HELP DIAGNOSE THE PROBLEM AND CORRECT IT

Here's what to expect when you bring your car to a Jiffy Lube service center for brake service:

  • A trained technician will ask you a few questions to identify your driving style.
  • A complete visual inspection of your vehicle’s  brakes will be performed (wheels on).
  • A more thorough brake inspection is performed if a tire rotation is performed.
  • Brake service recommendations will be presented to you based on this visual inspection.
  • In some cases, a more comprehensive inspection may be recommended.
  • Your vehicle will be test driven before and after the brake service.
  • The technician will explain the results and answer your questions.
  • Service options will be presented in writing.
  • As needed, and only with your consent, your brake system will be serviced following OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specifications.

Don’t wait until something goes wrong with your brakes. Count on Jiffy Lube for regularly scheduled routine maintenance. The best way to keep rolling safe is to maintain your car as recommended by your owner’s manual. No manual? No problem! The Jiffy Lube technicians can access the maintenance recommendations for your specific vehicle.

READ MORE ABOUT IT

Click here to learn more about Anti-Lock Brake (ABS) systems.

Please return to our “Tips in a Jiffy" blog often, because new content is added regularly.

Please note: Not all services are offered at all Jiffy Lube service centers. Please call ahead or check jiffylube.com to ensure the service is available.