How to Tell If a Wheel Cylinder Is Bad

by Jen Davis
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The wheel cylinders in your vehicle are an essential part of your drum brakes. Wheel cylinders work by forcing the brake shoes against the drums when you apply the brakes. If your wheel cylinders experience a problem or malfunction, you will have problems with your vehicle's brakes. If you suspect your car has malfunctioning or bad wheel cylinders, you should replace them immediately.

Step 1

Press down on your brake pedal. If your brakes feel soft or low, you may be losing brake fluid through the rear brake wheel cylinders. Check your brake cylinders if you consistently find yourself having to add brake fluid to your vehicle.

Step 2

Check for brake fluid leaks or puddles under your car as leaks are one of the primary signs that your wheel cylinder has broken and is leaking brake fluid. If your car or truck has brake fluid leaking from the back brake assembly, there is a very good chance your wheel cylinder is going out.

Step 3

Drive your car down the road at a very slow speed and experiment with stopping your vehicle by both quickly and slowly depressing your brake pedal. If your brakes do not seem to be working as well as they should, but are still working, your wheel cylinders may have gone bad. Your back brakes only account for around 20 percent of your vehicle's stopping power.

Step 4

Take your car to your mechanic and have him inspect your brake cylinders if you suspect there is a problem. He will need to remove the back tire to check for worn piston seals, corrosion and pitting. If there is a problem with your wheel cylinders, he can replace them.

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