Your car's brake performance depends on a hydraulic system that is in good working order. Any kind of leaks or failure in this system not only makes your brakes perform poorly, but may cause a failure of all brakes sharing that hydraulic line. You may not always notice that you have a leak or serious problem until your brakes are inspected closely or you have a total brake failure. Rear brake wheel cylinders are one place where leaks may happen without any obvious symptoms. However, there are some subtle symptoms which may indicate that you have this kind of leak without taking the brake system apart. Here are some indicators that your car's wheel cylinders may be leaking and failing.
Your brake pedal feels spongy:
Your car's brake system is normally sealed without any air inside, but when you have a leak, air can get in and cause your brakes to feel spongy or work unevenly. You may also feel a pulsing or grabbing sensation when you apply the brakes. If the leak is really bad, your brake pedal may either sink suddenly when a large amount of air is sucked into the lines, or drop gradually with steady pressure on the pedal.
While drum brakes are often noisier than disc brakes, they shouldn't make much noise beyond a chirp-squeak or a small knock when you first drive the car after it's been sitting for a while. Squeals, scrapes, whoops and clanks are a sign that there's something amiss with your drum brakes. It might only mean a weak spring or misaligned brake pad which can easily be fixed, but it's always good to have it checked out just in case the problem is a wheel cylinder leak.
You're visibly losing fluid:
This is one of the first things people usually check for when they first notice something wrong, but many times, fluid loss is unnoticeable. If the leak is small, you may not know that you're losing fluid, or you may attribute the fluid loss to normal brake wear. For example, when brake pads wear, the caliper cylinder will expand and the brake fluid levels will lower. However, it shouldn't go down continuously to the point where you need to add brake fluid.
If you think your wheel cylinders are damaged or leaking, or you are having other strange brake issues that you can't figure out, then call a mechanic to have your brakes thoroughly inspected. Your brakes should work perfectly all the time for maximum safety and they shouldn't be clunking, feeling spongy or using up fluid.
For more information, contact Alaskan Auto Center Inc or a similar location.