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Faulty Brake Manual: Fixing Australia’s most common brake problems.

Safety and driving pleasure are a part of our DNA at Pedders, this is why Brakes are one of the five critical systems that make up the Pedders Performance Star. So the question is – are you failing your brakes or are your brakes failing you?

Well, operating in climatic conditions that are severe across the continent and on some pretty hard-core off-road and on-road terrain can often leads to issues. Issues that you need to fix then and there, so you can get back on the road. Especially in 4 wheel drives that travel off-road and across difficult terrain.

With over 66 years of combined experience in vehicle engineering, here are our suggestions for handling Australia’s most common brake problems:

Regular Checks: First things first, make sure that you go in for regular brake and suspension checks. Your brake rotors, pads and other components each have different safety use-by dates. Regular inspections will give you a chance to trade up before too much damage is done to your vehicle by poorly performing components!

Common Brake Problems






Low Brake Fluid



This usually indicates a leak in the brake system or a worn disc brake pad. Leaks are a definite safety hazard as they ultimately lead to brake failure. In this case, a specialist should look over the vehicle and the defective component must be replaced or rebuilt. It is dangerous to drive the vehicle until all repairs are completed. A good indication of a leak is if the brake warning light turns on.  




Low Brake Pedal


This is usually a result of the shoe adjuster or drum brakes sticking or rusting and failing to compensate for normal lining wear. Adjusting the rear drum brakes often restores a full-pedal but the lining will continue to wear if the adjusters aren’t replaced or cleaned.

Spongy or Soft Pedal


This is reflective of air entering the brake system due to improper bleeding, fluid loss or a low fluid-level. It can be remedied through bleeding all brake lines using the sequence recommended for your vehicle. Ballooning of the rubber brake hose during braking, is another possible cause of soft pedal.

Excessive Brake Pedal Travel


This often occurs due to worn brake linings, misadjusted drum brakes and air in the brake lines. Excessive pedal travel is dangerous as the brake could potentially run out of travel before the brake is properly applied. Pumping the pedal before brake applications helps as an immediate remedy, however specialist attention is required to fix the problem completely.

Pedal Sinks to the Ground


Dangerous as it may lead to brake failure, this is caused by worn internal rubber seals in the master cylinder or leaks in the hydraulic system that release the brake pressure.

Pedal Pulsation


This refers to a warped brake rotor (unevenly worn out) that should be resurfaced or replaced. The faces of a rotor should be parallel (within .0005 inch on most cars) and flat (no more than between .002 inches or .050 mm of run-out, based on your vehicles specs). Your wheel bearings should also be inspected, cleaned and greased up for optimal performance.

Hard Pedal


Often caused due to a low engine vacuum, a leaky vacuum hose, a faulty check valve or a defective booster. The faulty check valve allows vacuum to bleed out of the booster causing a hard pedal on braking.
This condition can be found through pumping out the vacuum with the engine switched off and starting the engine with the brake pedal depressed. If the brake relents and sinks, the booster is working!
However if there is no drop, the power assist booster may need specialist attention to identify if there is a blocked vacuum hose or a new check valve is needed.




Scraping Noise


This is the sound that tells you that your vehicle is ready for its next inspection.
Usually an indication that your disc brake pads, shoes or rear drum brakes are worn out due to metal-on-metal contact. Scraping sounds can be dangerous as your vehicle may take longer (than expected) to stop until you have your drum and rotors replaced, alongside new linings and brake hardware. Look out for wear indicator warnings, available on some disc pads that emit a screeching sound to indicate that your brakes require immediate specialist attention.

Squealing Brakes


This sound is commonly caused by vibrations between disc pads and calliper or rotor. The noise can be eliminated by installing new pads,  resurfacing or replacing rotors, installing new pads, anti-rattle clips and pad shims and greasing the backs of the brake pads, with warmed grease.

Brake Chatter


Brake chatter can occur if the brake rotor is warped, if the lining of the brake pads is contaminated with oil or brake fluid or if the brake linings move slightly. It can be remedied through an inspection, clean and grease for optimal performance.

Grabby Brakes


Grabby brakes are often a result of oil, grease or brake fluid on linings and the brake pad, that causes them to grab. The linings and pads must be cleaned or replaced, and the cause removed. Badly scored drums and rotors can also cause grabbing, and may need to be resurfaced or replaced for optimal performance.




Dragging Brakes


Often caused by weak or broken retracting springs on drum brakes, jammed /corroded disc brake caliper piston, a floating caliper with badly corroded mounting pins or bushings (uneven pad wear between the inner and outer pads is a clue here), overextended drum brake self-adjusters or a sticky or frozen emergency brake cable. This is a dangerous condition as it can often pull at the steering function of your vehicle or run so hot that the brake wears and fades.

Brakes Pull to a Side


This is often caused by friction on the front brakes, differences in rotor thickness, misadjusted brakes, a bad wheel cylinder or caliper, dragging brakes on one side, loose wheel bearings or contaminated linings. Your brakes require specialist attention to deliver performance and safety.

At Pedders, we leave nothing to chance where it concerns your brakes and you. Our exclusive range of brakes and brake pad cover many makes and models, alongside industry leading brake products from Akenobo, Bosch, Bendigo & PBR.

So, the next time your brakes get you into a fix, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and look through our chart to see whether your brake problem is HIGH RISK or LOW RISK. And if you are still unsure of whether your brakes are working as they should. Call in to organise a specialist consultation at just $28 for a tech and check report, or visit our stores across Australia / Where to buy Brakes in Australia:

Where to buy Brakes in Australia (this is the type of design I would recommend for the last part), Perhaps the individual states could appear in the drop down also. – Include Geographic Location instead of Miscellaneous.

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