How To Diagnose A Soft Brake Pedal On A Car? 10 Cause & Solution

When the brakes work correctly, pushing down on the brake pedal should characterize a firm resistance that ends with the brakes engaging at full potency. When you feel a spongy or soft brake pedal, there is the worry that it could be from either low fluid levels or a bleed issue, among other possibilities.

The common causes of a spongy brake pedal include failing calipers, contaminated brake fluid, collapsed rubber hoses, or air trapped in the system due to an insufficient flush when replacing parts.

In cases like these, diagnosing and repairing any issues as soon as possible is important to get back to safe driving conditions. If left unaddressed, these issues can cause premature brake wear and safety concerns while on the road. That’s why identifying the issue and fixing it is a must. Drive into learning how to fix the soft brake pedal issue.

What are Soft Brakes?

A driver should experience a firm brake pedal and consistent pressure when braking. In the event that your brakes feel spongy or soft, this can be indicative of an issue in the brake system. This can happen when air gets into your lines and cannot escape, which reduces the force being delivered to the brakes. The pedal will go down to the floor with minimal resistance instead of providing consistent pressure and feedback on how much force is being applied.

It’s important to address any issues with spongy brakes as soon as possible to maintain safe and reliable stopping power for your vehicle. If there are any signs of sponginess or if you experience a soft brake, it’s best to have it inspected by a qualified technician who can diagnose and repair any possible brake issues. It’s also useful to have routine maintenance checks done regularly to check for potential issues with your brakes before they become inaccessible while driving.

How to Diagnose a Soft Brake Pedal On A Car?

Soft brakes or spongy brakes are common brake repair problems that can be dangerous if not addressed quickly. The first step in addressing the issue is determining whether the brakes have recently been serviced.

If so, you’ll, unfortunately, need to take your vehicle in for more repairs to ensure that all of the air is bled from the system. This process involves carefully squeezing each brake caliper and cycling through them until the system has no further air pressure.

On the other hand, if your car’s hydraulic braking system has never been serviced, the soft brake issue could be due to dehydration or lack of lubrication. To repair this, check all of your rotors and calipers for even wear and any deterioration or scoring on their surfaces.

Then make sure all rotating parts are properly lubricated so they don’t cause friction which will slow down braking response. Lastly, inspect your master cylinder for leaks before topping off with fresh brake fluid from a closed container. Following these steps should ensure a reliable (and not-so-spongy) brake experience.

How do I Know I Have Soft Brakes?

1. The Brake Pedal Appears to Be Sinking

Press down on your brake pedal should meet a certain degree of resistance before slowing your vehicle. But if the brake pedal is sinking to the floor without any resistance, it’s a sign that your braking system could have some issues. This is certainly caused for concern, as you must ensure your brakes can continue operating safely and effectively.

It’s important to address this issue as soon as possible, as problems in the brake system could result in serious safety hazards. In the short term, you can slow or stop your vehicle by repeatedly pumping your brakes instead of pressing down once each time – this generates enough pressure so that the car will respond accordingly. It’s wise to find a professional mechanic right away who can inspect and diagnose any underlying problem with the braking system.

2. The Brake Warning Lights are Currently Illuminated.

Whenever you’re driving, it’s always important to be aware of any warning lights on your car’s dashboard. One such indicator is for your braking system.

If the brake warning light goes on, it usually means something isn’t right with your brakes. It could mean the parking brake is engaged or the brake fluid level is low. In either case, it should be taken seriously and dealt with immediately.

An illuminated brake warning light could also indicate a problem with your brake fluid pressure. This issue can prevent the brakes from functioning correctly when you try to stop.

To ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive and in good working condition, check your brakes immediately if this dashboard warning comes on. Safely maintaining a car can help free you from harm while driving and may save money on costly repairs.

3. Your Brakes Make Noises or Feel Vibrations

Your brakes should produce a consistent, smooth sound when stopping. If you hear any noises, such as grinding or squealing, it’s a good indication that there is something wrong with your brakes. This could be caused by worn-out brake pads and/or rotors, which may need to be replaced.

It’s important to have a professional mechanic inspect your brakes if you hear any strange noises to ensure that the issue is properly addressed.

You may also experience vibrations when braking. This could be caused by warping or issues with the brake pads and/or rotors. It’s best to have a qualified technician look at your brakes and diagnose any potential problems.

10 Cause Of Brakes Soft Issue

Air in the Brake SystemAir can get trapped in the brake lines, causing a spongy or soft brake pedal feel. This can occur during brake fluid replacement or due to a leak in the brake system.
Brake Fluid LeakA leak in the brake system can result in a loss of brake fluid, leading to a decrease in hydraulic pressure and a soft brake pedal.
Worn Brake PadsAs brake pads wear down, the amount of material available to create friction with the rotor decreases, leading to reduced braking performance and a soft pedal feel.
Contaminated Brake FluidBrake fluid can become contaminated over time, reducing its effectiveness in transmitting hydraulic pressure and causing soft brakes.
Brake Master Cylinder IssuesProblems with the brake master cylinder, such as a worn or damaged seal, can result in a loss of hydraulic pressure and soft brakes.
Brake System Bleeding IssuesFaulty or sticking brake calipers can prevent proper brake pad engagement with the rotor, reducing braking performance and soft brakes.
Brake Line Restriction or BlockageA restricted or blocked brake line can impede the flow of brake fluid, causing a loss of hydraulic pressure and resulting in soft brakes.
Brake Caliper IssuesA malfunctioning brake booster can reduce the amount of assistance provided to the brake system, leading to a soft brake pedal.
ABS System MalfunctionIssues with the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), such as a faulty sensor or module, can affect brake performance and result in a soft pedal feel.
Brake Booster ProblemsIssues with the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), such as a faulty sensor or module, can affect brake performance and produce a soft pedal feel.

What steps to take to provide this soft brakes issue?

If you are experiencing soft brakes, it is essential to address the issue promptly to ensure your safety on the road. Here are some steps you can take to address soft brake-related problems:

  1. Check Brake Fluid Level: Verify the brake fluid level in the reservoir. If it is low, it may indicate a leak or worn brake pads. Add the appropriate brake fluid as specified in the owner’s manual.
  2. Inspect for Brake Fluid Leaks: Look for any brake fluid leakage around the brake calipers, brake lines, and master cylinder. If you notice any leaks, have them repaired by a professional mechanic.
  3. Bleed the Brake System: Bleeding the brake system helps remove air trapped in the brake lines. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional mechanic to perform a proper brake system bleeding.
  4. Check Brake Pads and Rotor Condition: Inspect the brake pads for excessive wear or damage. If they are worn beyond the recommended thickness, replace them. Also, check the condition of the brake rotors for any signs of warping or scoring. Resurface or replace them if necessary.
  5. Examine Brake Calipers: Ensure that the brake calipers are functioning correctly and not sticking. If you notice any issues, such as uneven pad wear or caliper piston sticking, have the calipers inspected and serviced by a professional?

How to stop squeaking bike brakes?

If your bike brakes are squeaking, it can indicate several factors, such as contamination, misalignment, or worn brake pads. Here are some steps you can take to stop the squeaking:

  1. Clean the Brake Pads and Rim: Remove the brake pads from the caliper and use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off any dirt, debris, or residue from the brake pads and the rim surface. Contaminants on the braking surfaces can cause squeaking.
  2. Align the Brake Pads: Ensure the pads are properly aligned with the rim. Adjust them if necessary so that they make even contact with the rim surface when the brakes are applied.
  3. Toe-In the Brake Pads: This refers to angling the front edge of the brake pads slightly inward towards the rim. A slight toe-in can often help reduce squeaking. Use an Allen wrench to loosen the brake pad mounting bolt, adjust the angle, and then tighten the bolt again.
  4. Check for Pad Wear: Inspect the brake pads for excessive wear. If they are worn down to the wear indicators or have a significantly reduced thickness, replace them with new brake pads. Worn brake pads can cause squeaking.
  5. Clean or Replace the Brake Pads: If the brake pads are contaminated with oil, grease, or other substances, clean them with rubbing alcohol or brake cleaner. If cleaning doesn’t solve the issue, consider replacing the brake pads with new ones.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. Why Is My Brake Pedal Soft But With No Leaks?

If you are experiencing a soft brake pedal with no signs of leaks, it could be caused by a few different issues. The most common cause is an insufficient amount of brake fluid. Brake fluid gradually decreases over time as it is absorbed and lost through the pads, which can lead to a soft-feeling pedal. Low brake fluid levels will also cause the brakes to feel spongy as the pressure is not distributed evenly. Additionally, if water or air is in the system, your brakes will feel soft when pressed.

2. How Do I Fix A Soft Brake Pedal?

If you are experiencing a soft brake pedal, the best way to fix it is by having an experienced mechanic inspect your brakes and replace any damaged components. The technician will be able to identify the root cause of the issue and provide the necessary repairs to get your brakes functioning properly. Additionally, they may suggest a brake fluid flush to remove any air or water from the system and replace it with fresh fluid.

3. How Do I Maintain My Brakes?

To keep your brakes in top condition, regular maintenance is essential. You should check the brake fluid levels monthly and ensure they are at the recommended levels. Additionally, you should inspect the brake pads and rotors for signs of wear or damage. If necessary, have them replaced by a qualified mechanic to ensure your brakes function properly. Check the brake lines and hoses for any signs of leaks or damage and replace them as necessary.

4. How Do You Test A Brake Line?

To ensure your vehicle’s safety, inspecting brake lines under high pressure is recommended. It is important to ensure that hoses are in good condition to handle emergencies, which can be simulated through hard braking during the assessment.

5. What Are Good Brake Lines?

Good brake lines are an essential component of a functioning braking system. Brake lines carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to the wheel cylinders, which move the pistons and activate the brakes. As such, good brake lines should be strong and durable enough to withstand pressure and long-term use.


If your brakes feel soft, spongy, or sink to the floor, it could indicate something wrong with your braking system. It’s important to address any issues promptly and inspect them by a qualified mechanic to ensure your vehicle remains safe and reliable. In addition, be sure to listen for any strange noises when braking or check for illuminated warning lights on your dashboard.

John D. Archer

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.