5 Reasons Why Car Brakes Fail

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Nobody wants to experience brake failure while out on the road. But, just like every other part of your car, brakes can succumb to a variety of problems that prevent them from working properly. As such, knowing what causes brake failure can help drivers better protect themselves, their vehicles, and the other drivers around them. Let’s take a look at five possible reasons why brakes might fail and what can be done about them.

The Braking System Is Obstructed

Water, dirt, and other forms of debris can obstruct your car’s braking system. When these unwanted elements obstruct the brake lines or calipers, they compromise the ability to generate the necessary pressure to slow the vehicle effectively.

As such, when the brakes are covered in water and mud, your car will take longer to stop. This problem occurs because the debris disrupts the mechanical process, preventing the brake pads from making solid contact with the brake discs. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the braking system can help avoid such situations, allowing drivers to maintain control and safety on the road.

A Loss of Brake Fluid

Brake fluid acts as the lifeblood of the brake system and facilitates the transfer of pressure from the brake pedal to the brake pads. However, a loss of this vital fluid can lead to catastrophic brake failure, as the brake pedal might go to the floor without actually slowing the car. 

This loss can happen due to a leak in the brake lines or a failure in the master cylinder — both of which result in a significant drop in brake pressure. Drivers might notice signs such as the brake light illuminating or fluid leaking beneath the vehicle. Regular checks for fluid levels and the integrity of the brake lines are instrumental in preventing brake failure, ensuring that the vehicle can stop effectively when needed.

The Brake Pads Are Overheated

Overheating brake pads are a common cause of brake failure — particularly during extended periods of heavy braking, such as driving in hilly areas or towing heavy loads. The excessive heat can cause the brake pads to wear prematurely or even make the brake fluid boil, both of which significantly reduce braking efficiency.

When brake pads overheat, they may emit a burning smell, a warning sign that should not be ignored. Switching to a lower gear can help reduce reliance on the brakes and prevent overheating. Additionally, opting for high-quality brake pads designed to withstand higher temperatures can help drivers maintain control and safety under demanding conditions.

Brake Cylinder Issues

Issues with the master cylinder — are another potential cause of brake system failures. The master cylinder is responsible for distributing hydraulic pressure to the brakes. When it malfunctions due to wear or a manufacturing defect, it can lead to a loss of brake pressure and lead to a failure.

One symptom of a failing master cylinder is a brake pedal that feels spongy or sinks to the floor when pressed. Regular inspections and replacing the master cylinder before it reaches the end of its limited lifespan can prevent brake failure, allowing the brake system to function correctly.

Owner Neglect

Neglecting the brake system is easily the most avoidable cause of brake failures. Over time, all components of the brake system — from the brake pads to the calipers — experience wear and tear. Without regular maintenance, these components can fail, leading to brakes that respond slowly or, in worst-case scenarios, stop working altogether. 

Warning signs like unusual noises when braking, the car pulling to one side, or the brake light illuminating means that you should take your car to an expert to have its brakes looked at. By paying attention to these signs and adhering to a regular maintenance schedule, you can avoid brake failure and ensure your vehicle remains safe and reliable on the road.

If You Experience Brake Failure, Reach Out to LubeMaster

Whether your front or rear brakes are giving you trouble, the LubeMaster team will be there to help. In addition to providing brake services for Philadelphia drivers, we also offer oil changes and other services to help keep your ride in top condition. Give us a call today to learn more about what we can do for your vehicle!

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