Should a Fluid Leak in the Brake System be Ignored?

Article by Christian A., on August 3, 2018

When you go, you also have to stop. Driving is not just about moving, but is also about stopping. That is why the brakes are considered as an important part of a vehicle. Without the brakes, a car cannot slow down to a stop.

A vital element of a car’s braking system is the brake fluid. When the pedal is depressed, you actually send the brake force from your foot to the brakes through the brake fluid. The brake fluid serves as an incompressible medium that transmits the foot pressure on the brake pedal through the master cylinder to the brake calipers, allowing the friction material to clamp against the brake discs. Thus, the braking force of a car depends on the pressure transmitted by the brake fluid.

Occasionally though, the brake system may develop a leak. You will eventually notice that the brake fluid has become too low, although you have just recently refilled it. There are many situations in which the system would leak brake fluid. For the instance, the brake lines might be leaking. There could also be a brake fluid leak in the wheel cylinders, calipers or master cylinders. In addition, the Anti-lock braking system might have become faulty or the bleeder valves have become loose. Furthermore, worn brake pads or worn brake shoes could be causing seal to fail in the calipers. Aside from leaking lines, calipers or master cylinders, the fluid may also get low if the pads or shoes are worn, as the system would use more fluid volume than before.

But if you are wondering if a leak in the brake system would be problem, the answer is big yes.

As aforementioned, the brake fluid transmits force through pressure. Now, if there is a leak, the amount of brake fluid would get low. This would directly affect the fluid pressure in the brake system. If the pressure becomes weak, the braking force would also be weak. This is why no matter how you hard your press the brake pedal, the brakes might not engage. At first, a leak may not fully affect the entire brake system, but eventually, the car wouldn’t be able to properly slow down and stop.

Cars should always be able to slow down and stop, and a failure to do so is a big safety issue. Imagine travelling at speeds of 100 km/h (62 mph) and a large object is blocking the road around 100 meters ahead. You still have time to hit the brakes and stop safely. But because the brake fluid is too low, the brakes can’t engage and the car can’t be brought to a halt. The results would be disastrous and lives might even be lost. Thus, any fluid leak in the brake system shouldn’t be ignored.

There are ways to determine if there is a possible leak. When the brake pedal feels soft when depressed, the brake fluid might be leaking. This is also true when the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor when engaged. Although some cars come with fail-safe mechanisms to prevent total brake failure, it is prudent and wise to always check the brake system for any problem, like brake fluid leaks.

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