How to Pump Car Brakes

by Contributor

The brake system on your car is comprised of wheel cylinders, a master cylinder and hydraulic lines. Pressing the brake pedal will push hydraulic fluid to each wheel, apply the brake shoes or pads to the wheel, and stop the car. Recent work to the brake system or a leak in the hydraulic lines will cause you to have to pump your brakes to keep your brakes from operating.

Press down on the brake pedal of the car. The brake pedal is the one on the left or the center pedal if the car is a manual transmission. Pressing the brake pedal down will force brake fluid from the master cylinder through the hydraulic lines to each of the wheels. The hydraulic fluid will apply force to the brake shoes or brake caliper that has two brake pads. The force applied will slow and eventually stop the car.

Push the pedal to the floor repeatedly until you get to the point that the pedal no longer travels down and provides resistance to your pressure. This repeated pumping of the pedal will build a pressure in the hydraulic lines and eventually reach a point that will hold, even if that's for only a short time.

Pump the pedal every time you stop or slow to ensure that you will have functioning brakes. Don't wait to have your brakes services if you are having any of these symptoms. See a qualified mechanic and have the system serviced.

Tip

  • check The first thing you should check that the brake fluid reservoir is full and won't introduce air into the lines. If you do let air into the hydraulic line system, you must bleed the brake lines before reliable operation is expected.

Warning

  • close Don't pump the brakes on a car with ABS brakes.

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