Why Your Brake Pedal Is So Hard To Push

September 24th, 2019 by

Some people think that the brakes on their car have disappeared simply because the brake pedal on their vehicle has to be pushed harder than normal. It can feel as though you are stepping on a rock instead of your brake pedal, even though you can still stop the vehicle, but not easily. The loss of power-assist in the braking system can usually be attributed to a failed power brake booster or major contamination of your brake fluid. 


Here are some ways you can determine why your brake pedal is so hard to push and what to look out for before visiting our service department for repair at Toyota of Cedar Park:

Is Goop Causing Your Brake Pedal To Be So Hard To Push

Brake fluid is a hygroscopic fluid that absorbs water, but over time it causes goop to build up inside of the brake system. This build-up can cause the brake booster to appear as it has failed; your brake fluid should always remain clear with an amber tint.  


Follow these steps to eliminate goopy brake fluid:

  1. Remove the cap from the reservoir.
  2. Scrape a flat screwdriver lightly across the bottom of the reservoir.
  3. Inspect the screwdriver tip.


Your brake fluid should be changed if the screwdriver doesn’t appear clear when it is removed from the reservoir. 

  • Suction the old brake fluid out of the reservoir.
  • Fill the reservoir with fresh brake fluid. Check your manual to be sure you are using the correct type of fluid for your vehicle because not all types can be mixed (for example, DOT 3 and DOT 5). 
  • Place a drain pan under the right rear wheel. The general rule is to start at the brake farthest from the master cylinder (right rear), and then work your way closer, ending with the left front.
  • Open the bleed valve about a half-turn, and have your partner depress the brake pedal.
  • Once the flow of fluid slows, close the valve. Have your partner pump the brake pedal, and then repeat the process. Repeat until the brake fluid is clear and free of bubbles. 
  • Repeat at each wheel.


If the brake fluid has been flushed properly, the brake pedal of your vehicle should be back to normal. 


If not, read on.


Monitor For Vacuum Loss


The engine vacuum inside your vehicle is typically used to power your “power brakes” and uses the vacuum from the engine’s intake manifold to increase the pressure applied to the brake pedal and to benefit braking. 


Typically, the front seal fails inside the vacuum-assist brake boosters, and over-time time the booster seal can cause the rear seal on your master cylinder to also fail. This can be found based on the appearance of drips down the front of the booster and can require the booster and master cylinder to be replaced.


There should be a hose between the booster and engine to assist the vacuum and should be the first thing checked. Be sure to replace or reconnect this hose when needed, unscrew two of the nuts securing the main cylinder from the booster when the hose isn’t leaking, and start the engine. Gently press the brake pedal. Check for hissing sounds in between the booster and master; if you hear this, it is a sign there is a leak on the front seal of the booster. 


If your vehicle is overdue for maintenance or a tune-up, bring it to Toyota of Cedar Park. Our service department is located at 5600 183A, Cedar Park, Texas 78641. We look forward to helping you keep your vehicle in the best condition. Our service hours are Monday – Friday 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM and Saturday 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM. 

Give us a call at (512) 960-3961 or schedule your service appointment online anytime. Visit your local Toyota dealer in Cedar Park, TX;  just a short drive from Austin. Experience the difference!