Soft Brakes: What's Behind the Problem?

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Brakes should be firm—when you press your foot on the brake pedal, your car should come to a hard stop. A brake pedal that feels soft is a problem, and it is indicative of a malfunction. As one of the most critical safety features in your vehicle, it's essential you discover why your brakes are soft so that you can make the appropriate repairs.

Brake Line

When you press your foot on the brake, the step initiates a process that sends a burst of pressure through the brake cylinder to slow your vehicle. The brake line is the catalyst by which the pressure is delivered. 

When there is an issue with the brake line, your car's slowing process is hindered. A common problem is air in the brake line. When air gets into the line, it prevents the brake fluid from properly flowing through the line, which can reduce the pressure flow and make your pedal feel soft. A certified technician can bleed your brakes to remove the air. 

Wheel Cylinder

The wheel cylinder is a small barrel-like feature that is connected to your brake pedal. When you press your foot on the brake pedal, brake fluid gets forced into the wheel cylinder, which initiates a process that helps your brake pedals contract into one another, and ultimately, stop your car.

Over time, it's not unheard of for a cylinder to corrode. The corrosion can cause holes to form in the wheel cylinder that allow the brake fluid to leak. A shortage of fluid will prevent the brake pads from contracting correctly. A technician can help you determine if your cylinder should be repaired or replaced. 


The brake caliper is one of the most integral parts of the entire braking system. The caliper is a compliment to the wheel cylinder, in that it is the function that actually initiates the movement of your brake pads after you press on the brake pedal. 

Similar to the wheel cylinder, corrosion can sometimes form along the caliper as well, which will also present an opportunity for brake fluid to leak and, as a result, make your brakes feel soft. If you live in a warm, humid climate, you may want to upgrade to a rust-proof caliper.  

Do your brakes feel soft? Don't put your safety at risk by ignoring the issue. Take your vehicle to a brake repair shop, such as Heritage Auto Pro, for an immediate assessment of the problem and prompt repairs.