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5 brake problems and how to solve them

Kwik Fit | Wednesday 15th November 2017 4:32pm

close up of brake disc

As well as being one of the most important parts of a car, brakes can also cause the most problems. After all, the braking system is used constantly while driving and will inevitably suffer from wear and tear. Ignoring these problems can have serious consequences and can put you and other drivers at risk, which is why itís so important that regular maintenance and check-ups are carried out. To help give you a better idea of what signs to look out for, here are five brake problems and how to solve them.

1. Thereís no resistance on the pedal

A common problem many drivers experience is when the brakes feel soft or spongy, or the pedal has barely any resistance when engaged. If the pedal sinks right down to the floor without you having to push down much, this can be a sign that there is a leak in the brake system. A leak can be extremely hazardous and increase your risk of having a road accident, so make sure you avoid driving the car until the source of the problem has been located and fixed.

The first thing you should do in this instance is to check the brake fluid levels under your bonnet. If you are unsure of how to do this, check your ownerís manual or take your car to a local garage. If the brake fluid levels are correct and you can see no visible signs of a leak, it may be an internal problem.

Itís also a good idea to see if the master cylinder above the brake pedal is leaking by checking if there is any fluid on the floor. If you find that the master cylinder is leaking, you will need to have it replaced by a professional mechanic. 

2. The vehicle pulls to one side

If you notice that your car pulls to the left or right when braking, it could indicate several different problems. For example, a common reason for this to happen is a frozen caliper. A caliper is a mechanism on a disc brake that squeezes two pads against a rotor, creating friction and causing the speed of the car to reduce. The caliper can become stuck due to rust, corrosion, after a car accident or simply due to a lack of maintenance. This can result in uneven pressure on the pads, which can make the car pull to one side. 

To fix this problem, you may be able to clean and lubricate the caliper mechanism yourself by buying a special maintenance kit. However, this can be tricky to do and if the problem is serious, it may be that itís not worth repairing. For this reason, the best course of action is to have the caliper replaced with a new one. Although this will cost you more, it can save you time and money in the long term. 

Other possible reasons why a car pulls to one side is a faulty master cylinder, worn rotors, a collapsed brake hose or brake fluid leakage. Again, you need to identify the fault and have it checked out right away. You can get a free visual brake check at any Kwik Fit centre.

3. The steering wheel is vibrating

Another problem that a lot of drivers experience is the steering wheel vibrating or shaking when the brakes are engaged. There are many possible reasons why this may happen, including warped front rotors, irregularities on the rotors from excessive heat or problems with the pad impressions. As a general rule of thumb, if you feel a shaking in the steering wheel, it is likely that the source of problem is located somewhere in the front of the car. 

One way to tackle this issue is by having the rotors resurfaced. If they are not thick enough to be resurfaced, you may need to have them replaced altogether. If you have disc brakes in your vehicle, they may also need to be replaced.

4. The brakes are pulsating

Similar to a vibrating steering wheel, pulsating brakes is usually caused by warped rotors. Rotors are constantly being heated up and cooling down when you drive, meaning that they can become easily worn and loose their shape over time. This can be made worse if you do a lot of long distance driving or are harsh on your brakes. 

The solution to this problem is much the same as what you would do when the steering wheel vibrates. The simple answer is to resurface or replace the rotors. You may also want to replace the brake pads or have them checked to make sure that they are fitted properly as they can also suffer from excessive wear and tear. 

Itís also worth noting that other faults with the car can cause pulsating or vibrating, such as wear in the steering and suspension mechanisms, or if your wheels are out of balance.

5. The brakes make an unusual noise

When brakes are used, there should be minimal noise. However, sometimes you may notice a squeaking, grinding or groaning sound when pushing on the pedal. If this is the case, you should take your car to a specialist mechanic as soon as possible as the brakes will probably need to be readjusted in some way. 

There are several reasons why brakes can make these kinds of noises. For example, there may be damage caused to the brake lining, pads, drum or springs, or something may have been incorrectly installed. An unusual noise may also signal that the wheel bearings are loose, that there is excessive lateral runout of the rotor, or the caliper has been incorrectly aligned.


The above problems can put you in serious danger if they are not dealt with properly, so itís important to make sure that if you notice any of these signs you take action right away. Having your car regularly serviced can not only help to fix these faults and improve the safety of your vehicle, but it can also prevent any further issues from developing in the future and save you money.

If you require assistance or have any questions about your carís brake system, why not get in touch with Kwik Fit today? You can book a free visiual brake check online for peace of mind or a full comprehensive brake inspection to pinpoint any issues, either now or in the near future.


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