(703) 352-7770 |  3215 Old Pickett Road, Fairfax, VA 22031  |  Mon–Fri: 8:00am–6:00pm (After Hours Key Dropoff Available)

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy While Driving In Fairfax, VA

November 17, 2020

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy While Driving

When your brake pedal feels soft, spongy or sinks toward the floorboard while driving in Fairfax, VA, it is important to have your vehicle’s braking system inspected as soon as possible. These symptoms are known to impede your stopping distance and brake reaction time which is a danger to you, your precious cargo and the other drivers on the road.

ABS Unlimited understands many drivers research the symptoms their vehicle is having to attempt to diagnose or at least understand the problem before visiting a repair shop, so in this article we will answer the question: “Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy”

Here is a video that will help you diagnose a spongy or soft brake pedal:

One important suggestion this video offers is to visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database to search your vehicle’s make, model, and year to look for any technical service bulletin (TSBs) that are created by the manufacturer and shared with dealers about how to repair recurring problems. 

If you do a search and find no results, don’t worry, we still have other solutions to offer. 

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy While Driving In Fairfax, VA

1) Air in the brake line(s) – This is the most common cause of a soft/spongy brake pedal. If air gets into the brake lines, it can prevent brake fluid from flowing properly, causing the brake pedal to feel spongy or soft.

If your brakes feel soft or spongy, now may be a good time to change or flush the brake fluid. Flushing the brake fluid, commonly called bleeding the brakes, gets rid of the air. (Bleeding the brakes uses fluid to push air out of the brake system.)

an image showing car brake lines

2) Damaged or leaking brake line(s) – Your vehicle’s brake lines are made of steel tubing and can become corroded by rust. Over time, rust can cause small holes to develop, allowing brake fluid to leak out. The loss of brake fluid leads to a loss of hydraulic pressure, so the brake pedal will feel soft or low and go to the floor.

an image showing leaking brake line

3) Leaking disc brake caliper(s) – Like brake lines, disc brake calipers (the component that clamps the brake pad down against the rotors to slow or stop the vehicle) can also become corroded with rust causing the internal piston seal to leak brake fluid. If the caliper is leaking, it can cause the brake pedal to be extremely low or go to the floorboard.

an image showing disc brake caliper.

4) Worn master cylinder – Consider the master cylinder the “heart” of your vehicle’s braking system. It performs a number of important functions: 

  • Holds the brake fluid
  • Generates hydraulic pressure
  • Feeds it to the front and rear brakes

Just like any part in your vehicle, the master cylinder can wear out and develop leaks. There are two types of master cylinder leaks: an external brake fluid leak and an internal leak from a damaged piston seal. Both failures will cause a loss in hydraulic pressure to the brakes which results in the brake pedal failing and going to the floor.

an image showing master cylinder

5) Rear brake shoe adjustment – If your vehicle has a rear brake drum/shoe and pumping the brake pedal improves the brake pedal, the rear shoes may be out of adjustment. The issue could be that the rear shoes are not being adjusted, as they wear. Shoes should be checked for wear and adjusted as needed. 

Helpful tip to prevent this issue: Use the parking brake occasionally. The engagement of the parking brake causes an automatic adjustment of the brake shoes.

an image showing  rear brake shoe

Stop brake problems before they stop you! If you are experiencing any of these issues, ABS Unlimited recommends you schedule a free brake inspection appointment ASAP. Click Here To Schedule An Appointment

We hope these scenarios have helped you understand why you have a soft brake pedal. The trusted and experienced techs at ABS Unlimited are always here to answer any questions you have. Simply give us a call at (703) 352-7770.