Common brake problems and how to avoid them

By David Sholicar

If you had to single out the single most important component of a car, it would have to be the brakes.

mechanic fixing brake

You can't afford to ignore brake problems; that’s why all Protyre garages offer free brake inspections. The following are some common car brake problems.

Soft pedal

A spongy pedal is often caused by air in the brake lines which is usually simple to clear, but you must rule out problems with your brake fluid and hydraulic cylinder. Apply steady pressure to the brake pedal: if it seems to lose resistance and sink, your brake fluid or cylinder is defective and the vehicle is unsafe to drive.

Pulsating pedal

Upward pulses in the pedal can be caused by overheating in a traffic jam, but another cause is worn or corroded discs. These can be resurfaced if you get them attended to early.

Experiencing issues with your brakes?

Why not book a free brake check at your local Protyre garage and let our experienced, highly-trained technicians examine and advise on their condition? Click the button below to book your vehicle in.

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Pedal height

As brake components wear, they are supposed to self-adjust to the correct height, so this could be an issue with the components that achieve this. Talk to one of our qualified fitters - sometimes this can be fairly simple to address.

If you are frequently stopping over the stop line, your brake coupling may need adjusting, or you may need new brake pads. This is a serious issue requiring immediate attention.

Rough braking

If the car shudders when you pull up and pull off, a calliper could be sticking. Ignoring it may damage other components.

Pulling to one side

This could also be a stuck calliper, but it could be a brake fluid leak. Either requires immediate attention. Tyre damage or suspension issues can cause similar symptoms.

Steering wobbles

If you haven’t had your pads changed recently, you could be down onto the shoes, or even have worn or warped discs. Never ignore this; get a professional Protyre diagnosis.

Brake light

Modern dashboards provide us with so much useful information but do ensure this isn't simply the handbrake indicator (a common cause of concern).


Worn pads or pads with damaging road grit embedded in them tend to squeal, so book a Protyre service or free brake check. If you’re already on new pads, dust contamination can cause squealing for a few days.


This is serious, especially if you feel it in the pedal. Your brake pads may be worn down to the shoes. A large piece of contaminant stuck in a pad can have a similar effect.

Burning smell

Heavy braking on a steep road may have overheated your brakes. Pull over and let them cool because overheated brakes can present a fire risk and are less effective.

Intermittent failure

Too many drivers never check their brake fluid, but it should be changed in line with the manufacturer's recommendation. Stale fluid has the alarming tendency to make your brakes fail suddenly. Often this is momentary and then they’re back, leaving you wondering if you missed the brake pedal with your foot. Eventually they’re just gone.

The experts at Protyre are on hand to provide free vehicle checks, cost-effective repairs, tyres from leading brands such as; Falken, or, Sumitomo and a host of other solutions including MOTs and car servicing. Please don't hesitate to contact us for further information and advice.

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About the author

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By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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