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Auto Repair Troubleshooting Charts - Brakes
Get ideas about what your auto is needing to run it's best



Problem Possible Cause Remedy/Repair
The brake pedal goes to the floor
  1. Leak somewhere in the system
  2. Brakes out of adjustment
  1. Check/correct fluid level; Have system checked
  2. Check automatic brake adjusters
Spongy brake pedal
  1. Air in brake system
  2. Brake fluid contaminated
  1. Have brake system bled
  2. Have system drained, refilled and bled
The brake pedal is hard
  1. Improperly adjusted brakes
  2. Worn pads or linings
  3. Kinked brake lines
  4. Defective power brake booster
  5. Low engine vacuum (power brakes)
  1. Have brakes adjusted
  2. Check lining/pad wear
  3. Have defective brake line replaced
  4. Have booster checked
  5. Check engine vacuum
The brake pedal "fades"' under pressure (repeated hard stops will cause brake fade; brakes will return to normal when they cool down)
  1. Air in system
  2. Incorrect brake fluid
  3. Leaking master cylinder or wheel cylinders
  4. Leaking hoses/lines
  1. Have brakes bled
  2. Check fluid
  3. Check master cylinder and wheel cylinders for leaks
  4. Check lines for leaks
The car pulls to one side or brakes grab
  1. Incorrect tire pressure
  2. Contaminated brake linings or pads
  3. Worn brake linings
  4. Loose or misaligned calipers
  5. Defective proportioning valve
  6. Front end out of alignment
  1. Check/correct tire pressure
  2. Check linings for grease if greasy, replace
  3. Have linings replaced
  4. Check caliper mountings
  5. Have proportioning valve checked
  6. Have wheel alignment checked
Brakes chatter or shudder
  1. Worn linings
  2. Drums out-of-round
  3. Wobbly rotor
  4. Heat checked drums
  1. Check lining thickness
  2. Have drums and linings ground
  3. Have rotor checked for excessive wobble
  4. Check drums for heat checking; if necessary, replace drums
Brakes produce noise (squealing, scraping, clicking)
  1. Worn linings
  2. Loose calipers
  3. Caliper anti-rattle springs missing
  4. Scored or glazed drums or rotors
  1. Check pad and lining wear
  2. Check caliper mountings
  3. Check calipers for missing parts
  4. Check for glazing (light glazing can be removed with sandpaper)
Brakes drag (will not release)
  1. Incorrect brake adjustment
  2. Parking brake stuck or adjusted too tight
  3. Caliper pistons seized
  4. Defective metering valve or master cylinder
  5. Broken brake return springs
  1. Have brakes checked
  2. Check cable where it enters the brake backing plate. In winter, water frequently freezes here
  3. Have calipers checked
  4. Have system checked
  5. Check brake return springs, replace if necessary
Brake system warning light stays lit
  1. One part of dual circuit inoperative
  2. Defective warning light switch
  3. Differential pressure valve not centered
  1. Have brake system checked
  2. Have brake system checked
  3. Have brake system checked




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