Brake Pulsation: Causes, Service, and Prevention

Brake pulsation is a common problem you may notice when driving your car. It can cause a pulsing or shuddering sensation through the pedal.

In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about brake pulsation, you’ll know about the causes, its effects on vehicular performance, and its prevention.

What is Brake Pulsation?

what is brake pulsation

Brake pulsation occurs when there is too much air in the brake lines. This means that the brake fluid isn't moving as quickly as it should be, which leads to a buildup of air bubbles in the brake line.

When these bubbles get large enough, they start to push against each other and create a pulsating effect. The pulsations can feel like a vibration throughout the pedal, and they can also make the steering wheel  vibrate.

Causes of brake pulsation.

Improper maintenance is the commonest reason for brake pulsation.  Lack of regular inspections and servicing,  may lead to a leaky brake line (check here how to fix brake lines). Leaky brake lines allow air into the system, which creates bubbles that lead to brake pulsation.

Another possible cause of brake pulsation is a faulty master cylinder. A bad master cylinder creates pressure imbalance across the wheels, leading to pulsations.

Brake pulsation can also be caused by worn pads and faulty calipers. They affect the gripping of the rotor when the brake is applied.

What Causes It?

Brake pulsation can be caused by several factors, including:

Warped rotors. If your car's rotors are warped, they may not be in the correct position to properly contact the brake pads when you apply the brakes, which means that your vehicle will have a hard time stopping.

Worn brake pads. Suppose the brake pads are worn out and smooth on their surfaces (which is usually caused by extended use). In that case, this will affect how well they're able to grip onto the rotor when you press down on them with your foot pedal during braking—and thus can cause some severe vibrations coming through at speed.

Air in suspension lines or chambers within each wheel hub assembly; this air bubble might cause vibration and other odd noises while driving around town or on highways if it's big enough.

What is the service for brake pulsation?

The brake pulsation service is to replace the brake pads and rotors. The brake pads and rotors are the parts of the brake system that contact each other to create the friction that stops the vehicle.  When these parts wear out, they can cause the brake system to pulsate.

How do I know if my brake pulsation needs repair?

 You may look out for unusual sounds or vibrations while braking. These are indicators of a pulsating brake. You should always check your brakes before taking off, especially if you've been experiencing brake problems lately.

You'll also want to inspect the following areas:

Your brake fluid reservoir to see if the level has dropped below the minimum mark;

Your master cylinder to be sure it's working correctly and that the piston isn't stuck inside;

Your brake booster which may show signs of leaks and corrosion;

Your brake shoes needs to be checked for wears and cracks;

Your brake drums to make sure they haven't become warped;

Your brake pedals which should be free from dirt and debris.

Your brake lines should be assessed for leaks and corrosion.

 Inability to fix the causes of a pulsating brake may cause more damage to a vehicle than a brake repair.

How to diagnose brake pulsation?

The technician can be on the lookout for warped rotors,.

How to Fix or Prevent Brake Pulsation

Servicing the brakes checks for any damage to ensure safety and function.

Inspection of all the components that make up the vehicle’s braking system may reveal any underlying issue that may lead to a pulsating brake, for instance, a loose or missing lug nut.

1. Check the brake rotors and pads for uneven wear, cracks, or grooves.

It’s essential to inspect your brake rotors regularly to detect any problem and prevent further damage. A flat spot on a rotor can be caused by excessive heat or friction between the pads and the rotor.

It's also possible that your pads are wearing out faster than  normal. If one of these conditions is present, it could cause you to feel a pulsation in your brakes while driving.

2. Bleed the brakes to remove any air that could be trapped in the system  that  prevents full braking power.

3. Replace the brake pads if they are worn down or have damaged sections.

If any of the following conditions are present during inspection, you'll need to replace the brake pad:

The friction surface has less than 1/16" (1.6mm) of material remaining;

The friction surface is scored or glazed;

There is obvious lateral runout when the rotor turns.

4. Inspect the calipers, wheel bearings, and steering components for problems.

If your brake pedal shakes, the calipers may be worn. A caliper is a device that holds the pads in place. The pads press against the rotor when you step on the brakes, slowing and stopping your vehicle. If the brake system isn’t tight enough, it may cause vibrations that you feel as a shimmy or shake through your brake pedal when you stop.

To check for wear:

Check for cracks or grooves on both sides of each piston within their rubber boots;

If visible damage is present, replace them.

How to avoid brake pulsation in the future?

Several things can cause brake pulsation, but warped rotors often cause it. Warped rotors can be caused by excessive heat, such as hard braking or driving in hot weather.

They can also be caused by improper installation, such as when the brakes are not installed correctly or when the wrong size rotors are used. Brake pulsation can also be caused by brake dust on the rotors.

There are a few things that you can do to avoid brake pulsation in the future. First, ensure that you have the correct size rotors installed on your vehicle.

Second, have your brakes regularly serviced to ensure that they are in good condition and to prevent a build-up of brake dust.

Finally, avoid hard braking and driving in hot weather to keep your rotors from getting warped.


1. What should I look for when inspecting my brakes?

When checking your brakes,  inspect the rotors for any signs of warping and if any sign of distortion,, you may consider replacing the rotors. Next, check the calipers. Make sure there are no cracks or grooves on the outer edges of the caliper.

Also, check the pistons for any signs of cracking or grooving. If you find any signs of damage, then you'll want to replace the caliper assembly. Finally, check the brake pads for signs of wear and if present, you'll want new brake pads.

2. How long should I wait before changing my brake pads?

Replace your brake pads after about six months of usage. If you drive your vehicle for less than six months per year,  replacements may be delayed till 12 months.

3. How can I tell if my brake pads are worn out?

Noise and vibrations are indicative of wearing brake pads. If you have a manual transmission, you'll feel a vibration in the steering wheel when you press the brake pedal. If you have an automatic transmission, you'll hear a loud clunking noise. The noise will become softer and quieter and an eventual wear away which signifies the replacement of the entire brake system.

4. What tools do I need to work on my brakes?

To work on your brakes, you'll need a few basic tools. These include:

A wrench


Torx driver

Socket set

Wrench set


Jack stand.

5. What size wrenches do I need?

The size of the nut or bolt you're working with determines what wrenches you'll need. For example, if you're working on a 1/2-inch nut, you'll need a 5/16" or 3/8" socket.

6. What's the difference between a torque wrench and a speedometer?

A torque wrench measures the force needed to tighten a nut or bolt. It does this by measuring the amount of rotation it takes to pull a nut or screw. This measurement is known as torque.

Torque is measured in foot pounds. One pound equals 4.45 newtons. Newtons are units of force. They measure how much pressure is applied to something. In other words, a torque wrench tells you how hard you need to push a nut or bolt while tightening it.

A speedometer measures the rate at which a nut or bolt rotates. Speedometers tell you how fast a nut or bolt turns. This measurement is known by many names, including revolutions per minute (RPM), revs, RPMs, and rpm. RPM stands for revolutions per minute.

It's also sometimes referred to as revolutions per second.


If your vehicle  experiences brake pulsation, it’s essential to take it in for service as soon as possible. The causes of brake pulsation are varied and can be challenging to diagnose, so it’s a good idea to take your vehicle in for service when you notice any symptoms.

Rahat Hossain