Why is My Car Leaking Brake Fluid?
Out of all the components in your vehicle, brakes are one of the most necessary systems for safety and overall drivability. Maintaining your manufacturer's recommended service schedule is the best thing you can do to avoid wearing out your vehicle's brakes. Knowing a few of the main causes behind leaking brakes will help you stay safe, save money, and avoid inconvenient repairs.
The expert technicians at Honda of Bay County understand the necessity for well-sourced service information to get you back on the road as quickly, and safely, as possible. We've authored this quick guide for the drivers of Callaway, Panama City, and Springfield areas to help diagnose a potential brake issue and contact your local service center.
What Does Brake Fluid Look Like & How to Check Fluid Level?
Unlike engine oil or transmission fluid, brake fluid is colorless. It's lighter than the other fluids in your vehicle with a consistency similar to cooking oil. If you notice a puddle underneath your vehicle, be sure to check what kind of fluid it could be. Check under the hood next if you suspect the leaking fluid to be from the vehicle's brakes.
Take a look at the brake fluid reservoir and check the fill level. If the tank is close to empty, your brakes have probably been leaking for a decent amount of time. Contact your local service center and replenish the brake fluid before driving anywhere.
The Most Common Causes of Leaky Brakes
Leaking Brake Lines
Brake lines start at your vehicle's master cylinder and run along the undercarriage from the driver side engine compartment to different components near and inside each wheel. Although they are manufactured for everyday use and can certainly handle varying weather and road conditions, over time, they can suffer from rusting and pitting. They should be inspected during regular maintenance and especially when you have discovered what seems to be brake fluid.
Loose Bleeder Valves
These are located on the brake calipers and allow brake fluid to evacuate the system. Sometimes regular brake work can leave one or multiple of your bleeder valves loose, leaking fluid directly from the calipers. If you notice fluid in or around this area, be sure to check the bleeder valves and tighten them accordingly as this is a simple issue with an equally straightforward solution.
Worn Brake Pads and Shoes Causing Caliper Seal Failure
The undercarriage of your vehicle is subjected to a lot of abuse over the years from weather and road debris. Generally, dirt will start to accumulate on a slow leak. If you see this, clear the dirt and inspect the area. It can often mean that the pistons allowing your brake pads to operate properly are hyperextended because of worn brake pads or shoes, breaking the cylinder seals. The resulting dirt buildup is from brake fluid accruing near the affected area.
Leak in Master Cylinder
When you can't build pressure in the brakes after several pumps on a soft or mushy brake pedal, this most likely resultant a major leak in one of your brake lines or the main cylinder. If you find pooled fluid under the rear of the engine, you probably have a leak somewhere in or around the master cylinder. In a situation similar to this, where your brake fluid level drops dramatically, it is important to pull over and immediately assess the situation before continuing to drive.
A Faulty ABS Unit
The ABS unit in your vehicle is designed to help quickly slow or stop a vehicle by rapidly pulsing the brakes to avoid locked brakes and skidding. It operates on a control module and various electronic sensors, including the ABS fluid level sensor, which measures the amount of brake fluid in the master cylinder.
Since the ABS unit is hydraulic, it will not work properly if the fluid level drops below a certain point. An odd noise coming from the ABS unit when pulsating the brakes or the feeling of a sunken brake pedal may mean a leak in the ABS unit itself, or that the system isn't working normally.
Your Local Brake Experts at Honda of Bay County
We hope that you enjoyed reading our quick guide and feel more confident in understanding your vehicle's likely brake issues. If you need a routine brake inspection or believe that your vehicle might be experiencing one of the above problems, contact our service center to schedule an appointment.
We at Honda of Bay County are glad to serve the drivers in or around the Callaway, Panama City, and Springfield areas!