Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy?

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy?

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy?

There are 5 common reasons your brakes may feel spongy: air in the brake lines, low fluid, damaged lines, worn cylinders, or damaged calipers.


It’s scary if we go to stop and our car’s brakes feel spongy. Your confidence in driving and feeling of safety is affected.

Restoring your manufacturer’s intended brake strength is key to regaining your driving confidence.

We will discuss the common reasons brakes feel spongy in this article.


5 Common Reasons Brakes Feel Spongy

There are 5 fairly common reasons brakes will being to feel spongy.  While gearheads and regular motorists love to talk about acceleration stopping power many times is forgotten.  Getting to 100 is fun but it’s less fun to think about emergency braking situations.  If you’ve noticed diminished brake strength or a spongy feeling make sure you get a brake inspection to ensure your safety and the safety of other motorists.

1.      Damaged Brake Lines

Brake lines can become damaged or start to rust if the vehicle has been driven near saltwater or in areas that spread salt on snow.  These conditions cause the brake lines to become fragile, start leaking, or completely break.  If you’ve been involved in an auto collision the brake lines could also be compromised.

2.      Air In Brake Lines

If your brake fluid is low or brake pads are worn down air can be drawn into your brake system.  Air is more compressible than hydraulic fluid and will cause a spongy feeling in your brakes.  This is by far the most common cause of spongy feeling brakes and can be repaired by brake repair technicians.  Read more about air in brake lines.

3.      Worn Brake Cylinders

Your car’s master cylinder distributes the pressure of the hydraulic fluid in your brake system.  When you apply the brake the master cylinder pushes the hydraulic fluid so the brake pads are pressed against the discs and the vehicle slows.  If the master cylinder is worn it might have leaks or be broken.  This is a common potential cause of spongy brakes.

4.      Damaged Brake Calipers

If your car is pulling to one side when you apply the brakes, you could have damaged calipers.  As you drive and apply your brakes intense heat is created via friction.  In some cases this damage causes a screeching sound as you apply the brakes.  This high head does cause wear on components such as the calipers and discs.

5.      Low Or Old Brake Fluid

Brake fluid by nature absorbs water.  This means over time the brake fluid has excessive moisture which can compromise your brake lines with rust.  If you bad brake fluid or not enough brake fluid it will cause your brakes to feel soft or spongy.  It’s important to get them checked out and new fluid added when necessary.

Brake Repair Services

If you have a car, truck, or other vehicle and your brakes are feeling spongy; bring it into Bridwell Automotive Center.  Our team can track down why your brakes feel spongy, offer affordable brake repair quotes, and perform the repairs quickly and correctly.  Our ASE Certified team performs brake repair services for virtually any make or model of vehicle.

Call  (480) 948-4781 or Contact Us

Why are my brakes squealing?

Why Are My Brakes Squealing?

Why Are My Brakes Squealing?

It happens to just about everyone at some point during car ownership, the brakes start making noises.  That leaves motorist asking, “Why are my brakes squealing?”.  It can be a frustrating and embarrassing if your car squeals every time you slow down and stop at lights, stop signs, and in parking lots.  Squealing brakes at low speed or when stopping is a sign you should pay attention to.

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Why Do Brakes Squeal?

There is a variety of reasons that your brakes will squeal.  It can happen right after a brake job if insulation or clips aren’t properly installed.  It also happens as brakes, rotors, and other parts of your vehicle’s braking system wear out and need repair.  The most common reason is worn brake pads as they are designed with an indicator that causes that tell tell high pitched squeal.  Read about all the possible reasons that your brakes are squealing below.

New Brakes That Squeal

If you’ve recently had your brakes done and they are squealing you need to take them back to the shop.  There is a chance that the calipers, pad insulators, or anti rattle clips are loose.  When new brakes squeal it is typically the sound of those loose items vibrating against the brake pads.  This correction of a brake service should be covered without additional charge.

Worn Brake Pads

One of the most common reasons your brakes will squeal is when the pads are worn.  Brake pads are made from taking a material that causes friction and mounting it to a steel backing.  As you apply the brakes in the vehicle the brakes press this material against the rotors to slow the vehicle by friction. When the material that is designed to cause the friction that slows the car wears down, it will begin to squeal. Typically, this is caused by the brake pad wear indicator spring.  When the pad gets thin it makes contact with the rotor and causes a high pitch squealing sound.  This sound lets you know that it’s time to take your vehicle into the brake shop.  In some cases, your brakes will not have a wear indicator and it will actually be the steel backing making contact and damaging your rotors.

Glazed Rotors & Brake Pads

Your brakes will also squeal when they are glazed.  The caliper that pressure the brake pad down will get stuck and the brake will stay partially applied.  This keeps the pad in constant contact with the rotor, even at high speeds.  The friction created by this creates heat by excessive friction.  The friction material in the brake pads will crystalize and harden due to this excessive heat.  As they harden, crystalize, and glaze they will make noise and become less effective in slowing the vehicle.  The only solution is replacing the brake pads and either replacing the rotors or resurfacing them.

Broken Anti Rattle Clips

Your brake pads are held on the calipers by pad stays.  Anti rattle clips are used to eliminate rattling or vibration as the brake is applied. If your brakes are squealing there’s a chance that the anti rattle clips are either broken or worn your pads will vibrate against the rotor and cause a squealing noise.  The only way to resolve this problem is to simply replace the anti rattle clips.

Poor Pad Insulation & Shims

As vehicles are produced by auto manufacturers insulation shims are set between the brake caliper and the steel backing of the brake pads.  This shim provides insulation that eliminates squealing.  The shims can wear out but can also be discarded during brake jobs. As you get new brake pads its important to either replace the insulation shims or use insulation gel to prevent the squealing.  If you’ve had a recent brake job and you’re hearing this squeal take it back and have them fix it!

Poor Rotor Surfacing

As brake jobs are done the rotors need to be resurfaced.  This process removes glazing and sets the rotors back to “true”, which is being even and flat. Any grooves dug by pads that were dragging or gouges in the rotors are removed along with adding a non directional surface finish that helps new pads wear in correctly.  You should keep in mind that if you’ve had a brake job and you feel brake pedal pulsing or hear squealing they might not have resurfaced the rotors as part of your brake job.

Scottsdale Brake Shop

If you work or live in Scottsdale and need brake repair by a quality brake shop, Bridwell Automotive Center is here to help!  Our team of ASE Certified technicians work on all makes, models, and types of vehicles and can find what’s causing your brakes to squeal and fix it!  From daily drivers and commuter cars to high performance or luxury vehicles we can handle any job.  If your brakes are squealing please call our brake shop for repair at 480-948-4781.