Brake Master Cylinder
Are your brakes acting up lately and you suspect your brake master cylinder to be the culprit? You'd better have it checked as soon as you can to avoid serious problems that are more expensive to repair. Remember that problems with your vehicle's brake system can cause fatal accidents if left ignored, so once you notice a drop in your brake's performance, troubleshoot your master cylinder right away. Here are the ways to do that:
Check your brake fluid reservoir.
Open the hood of the vehicle and locate the brake fluid reservoir on top of the brake master cylinder. If the reservoir comes with a plastic bottle sitting on its top, you need to unscrew the cap of the plastic bottle. In case the reservoir is made of metal, pry the retaining clamp off the top using a screwdriver. Check the fluid level on the reservoir. If it says low even if you've added fluid just recently, there's probably a leak somewhere in the brake system.
Ask someone to sit inside the vehicle and depress the brake pedal as you observe the fluid in the reservoir. Take note of fluid swirl or bubbles as pressure is applied on the brake pedal. These are signs of a malfunctioning master cylinder.
- Don't allow dirt to get into the reservoir while the cap is off. If the area under the vehicle's hood is filthy, clean it first before removing the lid of the master cylinder to prevent dirt from getting into the reservoir.
- It's also wise to close the brake fluid reservoir as soon as possible to prevent water vapor or oxygen in the air from contaminating the brake fluid.
Take a closer look at the brake master cylinder for signs of leaks.
If your working area isn't well lit for you to notice the smallest signs of leak, use a flashlight and inspect the master cylinder closely. Look for wetness, stain marks, or gunk especially under the master cylinder. Also check the tubes and hoses for signs of fluid leak. If the master cylinder as well as the tubes and hoses connected to it look moist or are dripping, there sure is a leak in that area.
Get under the vehicle to look for leaks under the master cylinder. Leaks are characterized by a puddle exactly underneath the master cylinder.
- Even if the puddle is not under the spot corresponding with the location of the master cylinder, don't ignore it as it may signify leaks in the brake line or in the wheel cylinder.
- Make it a point to check the brake master cylinder at least every after a few months. If the brake fluid level is low the last time you checked, do inspect it more regularly.
Observe brake pedal pressure.
Get inside the vehicle and press the brake pedal until it stops. Hold the brake pedal in there to sustain the pressure. If after a few seconds that the pedal came to a stop, it starts to drop down again, that means your brake master cylinder now needs a replacement. A soft, mushy, or squishy brake pedal without any leak in the system is also an indication that your master cylinder has stopped working.