If you've ever tried to slow down your car and found that the brake pedal goes almost all the way to the floor, you'll almost certainly panic. Thankfully, those brakes may work if you pump the pedal repeatedly, but this early warning should be enough to prompt you to take action. Why does this take place, and what should you do if it happens to you?
How Things Should Work
Firstly, it pays to understand a little about how your braking system works. Essentially, it relies on a special, hydraulic fluid that pushes a pair of brake pads against each rotary disc. With a disc fitted to each of the four wheels, this pressure is usually enough to slow the vehicle down safely and effectively.
Issues can arise if the fluid does not perform as it should. While it is designed to work well in such a harsh environment, extreme temperatures can sometimes affect it. In this case, the friction caused by the pads as they rub up against each disc will transfer heat to the fluid, and it may sometimes boil. When this happens, efficiency will suffer, and it may take you longer than usual to slow down the vehicle.
Still, the fluid is designed to cope with very high temperatures and, in most cases, will not boil. It will take a combination of circumstances to make this happen, which usually means unwanted moisture.
As brake fluid can absorb moisture, it is crucial to ensure that your braking system is always kept in good condition. If the cap on top of the master cylinder is not fastened securely, air may get in and bring moisture with it. If the flexible hoses that connect the system together are not kept in good condition, tiny moisture particles may also seep in and contaminate the fluid.
If enough moisture enters the system, it will undoubtedly boil when temperatures reach a certain point. While the remainder of the fluid may remain unaffected, the boiling particles of water will generate a vapour lock. As water can be compressed, you will have to apply additional pressure to the pedal to achieve the same result. This is why the pedal may occasionally go all the way to the floor when you apply initial pressure before returning to normal operation shortly after.
Urgent Action Required
So, as you can see, it's crucial to keep your braking system in good condition and avoid any water infiltration. If you suspect that your braking field has been compromised, book your vehicle in for a repair as soon as possible.
For more information on brake repair, contact a company near you.