To ensure smooth and swift functioning of the car, one must recognize and resolve the bad master cylinder symptoms in due time. Yet like most other car components, the master cylinder can also malfunction or fail at times.
A master cylinder is one of the pivotal components of a car that assists in the braking system’s smooth functioning. Most importantly, it transforms the mechanical pressure put over on the brake pedal into the hydraulic one. With the help of this, the brake calipers squeeze the brake pads that slow down the car.
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How to identify the symptoms of a bad master cylinder?
Before commuting in your car, it is quintessential to check the overall system to ensure a safe, reliable, and comfortable expedition. Likewise, the following are the indicators of a defective master cylinder.
Check for Warning Light
As soon as the user puts the foot over the brake pedal, it transfers the pressure to the master cylinder. Thus it pushes the pistons that are present inside the cylinder. Eventually, this results in displacing and directing the brake fluid over the brake lines towards every wheel’s brake components. A sensor inside the brake fluid reservoir transmits the information to the onboard computer of the car.
Generally, this sensor’s role is to convey whether there is enough fluid present in the reservoir or not. In such scenarios, the computer will switch on the brake warning light, which can be seen on the dashboard. Though this is one of the initial bad master cylinder symptoms, it can also happen due to the sensor’s malfunctioning. Most commonly, the warning light is triggered only when the level of the brake fluid is lower.
Malfunctioning of the Sensor
At times, the in-built sensor of the master cylinder can malfunction. Eventually, the brake light will be activated, even though there are no faults in the master cylinder. To get more clarity over this, one must test the condition of the master cylinder. For this, you would require a multimeter to assess the continuity of the same.
If there is insufficient brake fluid, then the light would irradiate on the dashboard. Unplug the connector of the harness from the master cylinder and select the CAP option on the multimeter. Afterward, press the mode button upon finding the Wi-Fi signal. Hook the multimeter’s lead upwards to the connector in the direction of the harness plug.
If there is no unusual sound while connecting the multimeter, then the fluid is at a suitable level. On the other hand, if you hear a beeping noise, it signifies that the fluid level is low. Apart from this, ditch the brake fluid to make sure that the sensor is in proper shape. If there is a beep sound, then one can assume that the sensor is working well.
Adulterated Brake Fluid
There are few rubber seals present in the master cylinder responsible for making the brake pedal feel spongy. Yet when the rubber seals get damaged, they tend to break up. Consequently, it leads to contamination in the brake fluid as the seals begin to lose their sealing efficiency. So the contaminants such as grime, dirt, water, debris, and other impurities can enter through the opening of the poor seal.
When such pollutants mix along with the brake fluid, they adversely affect the hydraulic pressure. Eventually, this makes it tougher to bring the vehicle to a stop. If the car is taking longer than usual to stop, then the brake lines’ pressure is insufficient.
Sinking or Dropping Brake Pedal
After stepping on the brake pedal, it should get back to its initial position as you take the foot off it. If the brake pedal is sinking, it will not return to its original position; instead, it would stay near the floor. On the contrary, the brake pedal might still go back to its ideal position but would take longer than before. Ultimately, it depends upon the intensity of the damage in the master cylinder.
One should never drive the car if the brake pedal is sinking as it is quite risky. The brake pedal would not facilitate abrupt stops due to the dynamic road conditions in such a situation. Furthermore, it is vital to check the brake system on encountering such issues to ensure optimum safety and reliability while driving.
Worn Out Brake Pads
Irregular pad wear can drastically lessen the long-lastingness of the brake pads of your vehicle. Thus it would also reduce the braking efficiency and performance as well. Furthermore, there can be a lot of reasons behind the uneven wearing out of the pads. Besides, this can also happen if the seals of the master cylinder are disintegrating. In such a case, the only option the user has is to replace the poor brake pad.
Leakage in the Master Cylinder
Underneath the car, one can discover a wet patch comprising of brake fluid. If the brake fluid level is comparatively lower or it all appears to be dry, it is a sign of fluid loss. Generally, this takes place due to the leakage in the brake master. When the air gets into the system, it can damage the seals of the master cylinder.
However, the only reliable way to fix this issue is by replacing the unit. Since you will be getting a new unit anyway, make sure to only go for the leading brand. Refrain from getting cheap and poor-quality rebuilt units as they are not durable.
Overheating of Brakes
If the aftermarket pads and rotors are overheating upon driving, then there is some glitch in the master cylinder. Most importantly, this can be quite alarming, especially if you have recently installed the pads and rotors. Troubleshoot the master cylinder before installing the OEM pads and rotors to prevent this issue.
Overheating these components, especially when the brakes are unlocked, indicates the failure of the master cylinder. Here the only way to resolve the issue is to replace the unit. Yet, if you want to know whether the problem is with the brake or the pads or rotors, then drive without utilizing the brakes. If the brakes do not get overheated, then the problem is with the master cylinder only.
Locking Up of Brakes
The locking up of brakes while driving is one of the most common bad master cylinder symptoms. It can happen if you are using a rebuilt master cylinder as they are not dependable and long-lasting. On another note, loosen the mounting nuts present on the master cylinder and pull it gently towards you. Consequently, it would aid in releasing the brakes.
Apart from this, the brakes might lock up if the water gets inside the system of the master cylinder. Therefore, it can terminate the required hydraulic pressure, thereby affecting the functioning of the brakes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can one drive with the faulty master cylinder?
Ideally, it is not recommendable to drive with a poor or damaged master cylinder as it is unsafe and risky. Further, if there is an issue in the master cylinder, the pedals would not function properly. Ultimately, it would become tough for the user to step on the pedal. As a consequence of this, one can even encounter an accident or a collision. That is why one must assess the system thoroughly before hitting off the roads.
What happens if the air gets inside the master cylinder?
If the air enters the lines, the pedal will sink towards the floor. On the other hand, if the air goes inside the master cylinder, the pedal would slink towards the bottommost part. Moreover, it would take a while for the pedal to function as usual.
Does a faulty master cylinder make noise?
Typically, a faulty master cylinder does not make any unpleasant sound. In case of any glitches, it would move directly towards the floor upon pressing it downwards. On the contrary, when a booster fails, it would release a hissing noise.
How can I troubleshoot the master cylinder?
You can quickly figure out the problems existing in the master cylinder by crawling underneath the vehicle. It would allow you to inspect and assess the brake lines. If they leak, it is advisable to replace them so that the pedal can function like before.
What is the cost of replacing a master cylinder?
If you want to replace a defective master cylinder, then the average cost would be around $250. On another note, if you hire a professional to fix the job, then it would cost you $550 approximately. The brake cleaner, cylinder, fresh brake fluid, and related components would come under $320. Apart from this, the labor cost would be somewhere around $250 or less, depending upon the work’s intensity.
One would also require a bleed kit for flushing the brake fluid present in the lines. Usually, this occurs when contamination in the brake fluid, failing the seals, or the master cylinder.
At times, it becomes pretty much challenging for the user to identify the bad master cylinder symptoms. Likewise, the information mentioned above would help you out in figuring out whether the master cylinder is working well or not. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, then take the car to the professional mechanic to fix the issue at the earliest. Make sure to have the best quality tires, brake pads, and fluids. Above all, what matters the most is your loved ones’ safety and comfort while traveling.