Brake wheel cylinders are mostly found in modern drum brake systems. When the pedal is depressed, the part extends to extends to press the brake shoes against the brake drum and slow the vehicle. As a hydraulic component, the wheel cylinder is subjected to the harsh conditions of braking and can wear out over time. When brake wheel cylinders do go bad, they will usually produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver that they may need to be replaced:
“Mushy” feel to the brake pedal
One of the first and most distinct symptoms of a bad wheel cylinder is a “mushy” brake pedal. If the wheel cylinders are leaking, their ability to pressurize and extend the piston may be compromised. This makes the brake feel strangely soft or mushy as if the brake slowly sinks to the ground when it is depressed.
Delayed or slow brake response
Another common symptom of bad or failing brake wheel cylinder is a poor brake response. If any of the wheel cylinders fail, it can affect the pressure of the system which, in turn, reduces the brake system’s ability to slow the vehicle. A vehicle with poor brake response will be significantly harder to stop, especially in heavy braking situations, making an accident more likely.
Leaking brake fluid
Brake fluid leaks are another indication of a problem with the brake wheel cylinders. Usually, you’ll be able to locate leaks with a quick visual inspection. You may see a thin film of fluid covering the inside of the backing plate, or if the leak is more serious, some drips or pools of brake fluid coming from the brake wheel cylinder. If a leak is large enough to be easily seen or to leave a puddle on the ground, the vehicle’s braking ability is typically already compromised.
Because the brake wheel cylinders are a part of the braking system, they are important to the overall safety of the vehicle. If you suspect that your wheel cylinders may be having a problem, or your vehicle is displaying any of the symptoms above, it’s best to have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician. At V&F, our certified mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.