To maintain braking power, also maintain your brake master cylinder.
You wouldn't want your vehicle engine without the brakes-that's inviting accidents. And, you wouldn't want the brakes with damaged or malfunctioning components-that's as good as no brakes as all. So what components do you have to check in your brakes? Well, all, especially the brake master cylinder, the part that provides the pressure that operates the various braking parts like the calipers.
A brakes master cylinder problem is easy to determine. One common symptom is a sinking brake pedal and not enough pressure, a problem that may be caused by the cylinder or by other brake master cylinder parts. Fortunately, you can easily replace your stock cylinder. Just refer to the right repair manual and remember the following guidelines. First, use the right tools and allot sufficient amount of time for the job. You would want to do the task correctly down to the smallest detail. Second, ensure your safety as you work-level your auto correctly and support it properly. Third, remember that the brake fluid is damaging to your car paint, so use proper protective devices for the fender. And fourth, while doing the job, carefully check for other damage like leaks and cracks on the brake lines to ensure that no further problems will arise.
Before you consider the mentioned guidelines, it is of utmost importance that you get the right replacement brake master cylinder. There are various brake master cylinder kits, and you must find one that's perfectly compatible with your brakes and vehicle.
Brake Master Cylinder Buyer’s Guide
- At the heart of the braking system is the master cylinder, which is where the brake fluid reservoir is installed on.
- The brake master cylinder is a pipe-like component that distributes pressure to each wheel’s brake caliper cylinders.
- When you press the brake pedal, the push rod presses the pistons through the linkage. This compresses the fluid in the chamber, which is then pushed through the corresponding brake lines.
- An OE replacement brake master cylinder usually costs around $10 to $1,200 depending on the brand and type.
- A failing brake master cylinder compromises your vehicle’s driving safety by increasing its braking distance and causing problems with your brake pedals.
- Replacing a bad brake master cylinder lessens the chance of you rear-ending the car in front. It also ensures an optimum brake fluid level with fresh rubber seals, pistons, and return springs.
One important component in every car is the braking system. A car’s braking system is made up of various components. These parts are responsible for slowing down your car and bringing it to a full stop. At the heart of the braking system is the master cylinder, which is where the brake fluid reservoir is installed on. To learn more about your vehicle’s braking system, let us discuss its most important component—the brake master cylinder.
What is a brake master cylinder?
The brake master cylinder is a pipe-like component that distributes pressure to each wheel’s brake caliper cylinders. The brake master cylinder primarily consists of two piston assemblies controlled by a pair of circuit return springs. These pistons are known as the primary and secondary pistons with each having their respective chambers. The primary chamber receives brake fluid through the primary port, while the secondary port feeds the secondary chamber.
How does a brake master cylinder work?
In able for the brake calipers to squeeze the brake rotor, the brake master cylinder needs to transfer the pressure you put onto the brake pedal. The transfer of pressure is done with the help of the brake fluid and the master cylinder’s mechanism. When you press the brake pedal, the push rod presses the pistons through the linkage. The pressure compresses the brake fluid in the chamber, which is then pushed through the corresponding brake lines. The brakes are applied as the brake fluid reaches the brake caliper cylinders.
Types of brake master cylinders
Brake master cylinders come in different forms, sizes, and mechanisms, but all are designed to perform the same thing, which is to distribute pressure to the brake calipers. Here are the two common types of brake master cylinders.
This is the most basic type of brake master cylinder you could ever find. The inside of a single cylinder is identical to a medical syringe. The brake pedal is directly connected to the piston inside the cylinder. When the brake pedal is pushed, the piston move and compresses the fluid. When you release the pedal, the return spring expands and pushes the piston to its original position. There is only one piston and chamber in a single-cylinder brake master cylinder.
In contrast to a single-cylinder, a tandem master cylinder incorporates two pistons in one assembly. Only the primary piston is directly connected to the brake pedal. The primary piston pushes a spring from behind the secondary piston. The secondary piston will only push the fluid to its dedicated system once the springs are fully compressed.
To keep the pressure even on both sides, the reservoir inlet port allows fluid to fill the back of the pistons. When the brake pedal is released, a compensating port speeds up the springs’ expansion by filling the chamber with extra fluid as the pistons retract.
How much is a brake master cylinder
An OE replacement brake master cylinder usually costs around $10 to $1,200 depending on the brand and type. OE replacement brake master cylinders are only sold individually. However, you can have them either with or without a brake fluid reservoir. If you’re out for an OE replacement brake master cylinder for your specific vehicle, be sure to input the year, make, and model to generate a list of perfect-fit components.
Although you can DIY-replace the brake master cylinder, we still recommend that you go see a certified mechanic. Not only can he or she install the part properly, an experienced mechanic will also recognize other problems involving neighboring components. Since the brake master cylinder is the heart of your braking system, adequate fitting is extremely important.
Symptoms of a bad master cylinder
The brake master cylinder is the most important component of your car’s braking system. It is responsible for making your brakes fully-functioning. Making sure that this component is working properly could save you from having brake issues in the future. If you want to know how to tell if the master cylinder is bad, pay attention to these symptoms.
Spongy or mushy brake pedal
Unusual behavior on your brake pedal could be a clear sign of a bad master cylinder. The brake pedal tends to abnormally behave when the master cylinder’s poor and failing sealing or pressure distribution. There could be a fluid leak involved, which makes your pedal spongy, airy, or difficult to press.
Brake pedal not returning to position
A spongy brake pedal is already bad as it is but a brake pedal that takes time before returning to its position is worse. This is a serious hazard because you are not in full control of your brakes. The pedal might sink further down even after lifting your foot in some instances. This could be due to return springs or clogged compensating port in the brake master cylinder.
Longer braking distance
If you observe longer braking distances, it could be due to lack of fluid being compressed by the master cylinder. Lack of brake fluid could be due to the presence of leak somewhere in the assembly or worn seals. Worn seals don’t hold brake pressure as good as a fresh seal. You also might feel mushy and spongy pedal along poor braking performance.
Illuminated Check Engine Light warning
Most modern vehicles’ master cylinders are installed with brake fluid pressure sensors. These are meant for detecting any problem faced by your braking system, especially the brake master cylinder. Any problem faced by the master cylinder could affect the entire braking system so make sure to bring your car to your trusted mechanic as soon as you begin experiencing some problems.
Importance of replacing a failing brake master cylinder
Without the brake master cylinder, your brakes won’t operate at all. Driving is extremely dangerous without brakes that are properly working because there’s nothing to stop the wheels from spinning. A failing brake master cylinder compromises your vehicle’s driving safety by increasing its braking distance and causing problems with your brake pedals. Replacing a bad brake master cylinder lessens the chance of you rear-ending the car in front. It also ensures an optimum brake fluid level with fresh rubber seals, pistons, and return springs. If you experience something unusual with your brakes, replace them right away with the best-quality OE replacement parts from CarParts.com.
The Automobile Basics: Brake Master Cylinder
Tired of dealing with soggy brakes? Then it's definitely time for you to check out your brake master cylinder. Chances are, this component has started leaking your brake fluid and is now causing your braking system to malfunction. If this problem is accompanied by illuminating dash warning lights and/or a new diagnostic trouble code, then there's a big possibility that this cylinder is what's causing your braking issues. You see, your brake master cylinder is responsible for generating the hydraulic pressure that's needed to slow down or stop your vehicle. This auto unit holds your braking fluid or hydraulic fluid and uses the pressure generated by braking pedal pressure to force your brake pad onto your brake disc or brake lining onto the brake drum. By creating friction, these braking components then give your ride ample stopping power to let your vehicle slow down or come to a full stop. Naturally, when your brake master cylinder breaks, you can expect weakened braking power. This not only affects your vehicle maneuverability, it also compromises your driving safety. Don't put your life and those of your passengers' at risk. The best and oftentimes only solution to broken brake master cylinders is immediate replacement. So if your stock equipment has given out after years of use, then make it a point to replace it as soon as you can.
Important Facts You Need to Know About Brake Master Cylinder
If your vehicle's a more recent model, then your vehicle's braking system is probably split into two circuits. And chances are, both of these circuits are serviced by a brake master cylinder. The brake master cylinder is responsible for turning physical pressure (your foot pressing down onto the brake pedal) into the hydraulic pressure needed to stop your vehicle's wheels. The master cylinder ensures that
Some Things to Remember When Buying a Brake Master Cylinder
The brake master cylinder produces a required amount of hydraulic pressure every time you step on the brake pedal. This pressure is necessary for the circulation of the brake fluid into the brake lines. Without a brake master cylinder, your car will basically lose its capacity to decelerate. If your vehicle has reached the point of needing a replacement brake master cylinder to become safe on the road again, you should study your options well before getting a new one from an auto parts store. Read on for a few reminders when buying a brake master cylinder for your car.
Which type of brake master cylinder would work best?
A brake master cylinder comes in three common types: single, ported tandem, and portless master cylinder. If you're on the lookout for the simplest brake master cylinder on the market, then keep your eye on the single-cylinder type. This is the most basic variety and gets the job done satisfactorily. A single-cylinder is the best choice if you want better control of the front or rear brake pressure. The major drawback about this type, though, is that once a leak springs from the front or rear brake subsystem, there's a high chance that the entire braking system of your car will get affected and become inefficient.
Conversely, a ported tandem brake master cylinder features a configuration which can prevent the effect of a subsystem leak from affecting the whole brake system, which makes it a lot better than the single-cylinder type. So, if you want to have at least one working brake subsystem in case the other malfunctions, this is a perfect choice to make.
Lastly, a portless master cylinder should be considered if you're looking for something that provides faster brake release than the other two aforementioned types of brake master cylinders. This type works best for cars with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
When is it better to buy an individually-sold brake master cylinder than those that came in a kit?
If you're pretty sure that the brake master cylinder is the only thing that's damaged in your vehicle's entire braking system, then buying an individually-sold master cylinder is more reasonable and affordable. However, getting a brake master cylinder as a kit is better recommended if you're not sure about the condition of the other brake system components.
Trouble-free Installation of a Brake Master Cylinder
A brake master cylinder basically feeds hydraulic fluid into the brake lines of your car by converting the pressure you apply on the pedal into hydraulic pressure. It's quite common for this component to have a seal or vent problem, especially if it's been used for quite some time now. If you've been recently pushing the pedal down to the floor before the brake engages or noticed that the brake fluid doesn't fluctuate as it normally does, then your car's brake master cylinder may be defective. It's best to install a new one as soon as you can to avoid problems from escalating. Read on to find out the tools you need and the steps you should do to easily outfit a new brake master cylinder into your car:
Difficulty level: Moderate
Things you'll need:
- Brake fluid
- Suction device
- Phillips screwdriver
- Owner's manual
- Replacement brake master cylinder
Step 1: Pop up your car's hood and locate the brake master cylinder. If you don't know where to find it, consult your owner's manual to see its exact location.
Step 2: Drain the contents of the brake fluid reservoir using the suction device. If your vehicle has a two-piece master cylinder with a separate plastic reservoir for the brake fluid, you may just detach it without draining its contents.
Step 3: Using a wrench, remove the brake lines attached to the brake master cylinder.
Step 4: Detach the electronic connectors and fluid level sensors that are connected to the brake master cylinder.
Step 5: Unbolt the brake master cylinder from the brake booster. Unscrew the two bolts that are holding it in place using a wrench.
Step 6: By hand, carefully remove the brake master cylinder from under the hood.
Step 7: Set the new brake master cylinder in place and refasten the bolts to secure it into the brake booster.
Step 8: Hold one end of the bleeder hoses while pushing a phillips screwdriver in and out of the plunger as you refill the brake master cylinder with clean brake fluid. By doing this, the brake fluid is properly distributed to all of the ports while making sure that no air is left inside the master cylinder.
Step 9: Bleed the brake system properly.
Replacing a brake master cylinder may take an expert DIYer around one hour to finish.
Tips When Buying a Brake Master Cylinder
When you brake, your pedal force gets extended to the vehicle, which in turn, causes it to stop. The brake master cylinder is the one responsible for this mechanism. It converts the force you apply on the brake pedal into hydraulic pressure in a dual braking system. When your master cylinder becomes worn, it is best to replace it immediately.Flexibility at your hands
In choosing your new master cylinder, it is essential to know what options you have in the market. Master cylinders are usually available individually or sold as a kit.
Convenience through your preferred cylinder
- Individual brake master cylinder ? If the brake master cylinder is the only part of your vehicle's brake system that's damaged, then you might want to get an individually sold master cylinder. However, going for this option is a bit risky. During the installation, you might discover other parts to be worn out as well. This only means that you'll have to spend another visit to the auto parts store to get another part, which could have come with the brake master cylinder sold as a kit.
- Brake master cylinder kit ? As a kit, a brake master cylinder comes with a reservoir and a bleeder kit. If you seek assurance and want to save time and effort in repairing your brake system, then the master cylinder kit is what you're looking for.
Different types of brake master cylinders suit different vehicle needs as well. Below is a brief list of the common master cylinder types.
- Single cylinder ? most basic type. It starts with the plunger pushing fluid into the slave cylinders. The spring then returns the plunger to its original position. With negative pressure, fluid gets pulled from the reservoir to the cylinder.
- Ported tandem cylinder ? has two pistons in one cylinder. It works using the combined effort of the primary and secondary pistons. The primary piston presses on a spring, which is attached to the secondary piston. When the spring gets fully compressed, the secondary piston begins pushing fluid to its own dedicated system. Pressure on both sides is evened out through a reservoir inlet. Releasing the brake pedal allows the pistons to return to their original position.
- Portless master cylinder ? This type gives quicker brake release than the standard master cylinder designs. Portless master cylinders use a valve assembly located in the pistons, which opens to balance the [ressure when the brake is released. This enables the master cylinder to work despite the absence of a compensating port. Its key feature is its anti-locking braking systems (ABS), which adjust braking force using rapid pressure modulations.
Brake Master Cylinder: How to Replace It
Repairing the brake master cylinder cures two unwanted vehicle malfunctioning ? a leakage and/or a fading pedal. Check for symptoms by examining the firewall for leaks. If your brake pedal goes all the way to the floor when you hit the brakes, then that's a surefire indicator of a broken master cylinder.
Below is a step by step instruction on changing your master cylinder: Difficulty level: Moderate Things to be used:
- Owner's manual
- Turkey baster or an alternative suction device
- Brake fluid
- Line wrenches
- Phillips screwdriver
Step 1: Open the hood and locate the brake master cylinder. Refer to your car's manual if you're having trouble finding it.
Step 2: Look for the brake fluid reservoir and drain the brake fluid using a turkey baster or another suction device. However, if it's a two-piece master cylinder with a plastic reservoir, just detach the reservoir for reuse on the new master cylinder.
Step 3: Remove the electronic fluid level sensor, below the fluid reservoir, by disengaging and releasing the safety clip.
Step 4: Use line wrenches to disconnect the two brake lines from the brake master cylinder. Remove the two 15mm nuts to unbolt the brake master cylinder from the brake booster.
Step 5: Take the master cylinder out. Attach the bleeder hoses that came with the master cylinder into the holes for the brake lines.
Step 6: Using one hand, hold one end of the bleeder hoses in the reservoir. Refill the reservoir while pushing a Phillips screw driver in and out on the plunger. This ensures that all air is out of the master cylinder and that the fluid flows to all of the ports.
Step 7: Mount the new brake master cylinder in a vice by sliding it on the brake booster studs.
Step 8: Replace and tighten the mounting bolts.
Step 9: Reconnect the brake fluid lines to the brake master cylinder. Return the electronic fluid level sensor to its place.