Brakes Still Spongy After Bleeding – Reasons And Solutions

If you experience brakes still spongy after bleeding, we can ensure that you are not alone. The fact is, although you shouldn’t have this type of problem after a bleeding process, it still happens sometimes. 

Though infuriating, brakes still soft after bleeding are not a super complex problem to diagnose and resolve.

Even if you haven’t encountered the problem yet, it is still helpful to have some knowledge in advance in case it happens. 

That’s why we came up with this post today. So no further ado, let’s head to the bread and butter of the article.

What Are The Signs Of Spongy Or Soft Brakes?

First, we must know what type of troubles we may face to diagnose the issue. A spongy brake, sometimes called a soft brake, is when your brake’s firmness feels loosened, or literally “spongy”.

A functional brake should always feel firm and steady with a stable pressure.

If you notice that something is off with its travel pressure or the brake pedal is squeaking and lacks responsiveness, you can be sure that the component is not working correctly.

Depending on the situation, your brake can have either of these problems below:

The Pedal Sinks After Pressing

Spongy brake pedal after bleeding will sink under your feet when pressed down and feels no resistance. Sometimes, you can also have a low brake pedal after bleeding.

If this happens, your car’s speed control and safety will be compromised. To have a smooth experience with your vehicle, you should bring it to a professional mechanic as soon as possible.

You Need To Pump Your Brake Constantly

This is a clear indicator that it is not functioning as usual. If you feel that the car keeps crawling forward and you have to repeatedly pump your brake to slow it down or stop it, then there might be a fluid leak in the system.

If fluid leaking is not the problem, it’s best to check your master cylinder.

A master cylinder is a vital part of your brake system as it transmits the pressure from your brake pedal to the braking mechanism to slow the vehicle down.

If this component is worn out, your best bet is to replace it immediately.

Check The Brake Warning Light

This is probably the most apparent reason to have a check all over your brake. You can detect the warning symbol right next to the check engine  light.

While its hampered pressure can illuminate the light, several other factors can lead to a problematic braking system that you want to avoid.

So, if you are asking: “why are my brakes still soft after bleeding?”, the answer is right in the next section.

The Brake Warning Light
The Brake Warning Light

What Causes Brakes Still Spongy After Bleeding? How To Fix?

Soft brakes after bleeding is a dangerous problem if you can’t fix them quickly.

Below, we list some of the most common reasons why the problem can happen so you can quickly diagnose it and have something to refer to how you can deal with each cause.

Inefficient Brake Bleeding

The most common reason is that you haven’t had an efficient bleeding process for your vehicle.

Often, bleeding is the exact way to deal with a soft brake, so if you still experience the condition, then there might be something off. 

Bleeding is the process in which you remove (or flush) air from your hydraulic brake system by opening a valve to let the air and some brake fluid escape.

When the air gets in the hydraulic system after everyday wear and tear, it creates a squishy “pad” between the spongy pedal and other components, making the force transmission ineffective, hence creating a spongy feeling.

Though bleeding is an essential process to keep the system in check, and you should do it regularly, if you are not familiar with its mechanics and don’t do it often enough, chances are you can mess things up.

How To Fix

Fortunately, this is the most straightforward problem to fix since all you need is a proper bleeding technique.

Depending on your vehicle’s factors, including its type and age, and your equipment at hand, there are several techniques for you to choose.

However, we suggest performing the vacuum method as it is one of the simplest and requires little equipment.

What you need: 

  • New brake fluid for your vehicle
  • Vacuum brake bleeder
  • Wrenches
  • Bleeding kit
Replace brake disc and pads

The brief process:

  • Find your way to the bleeder screws on the brake caliper.
  • Then, connect your vacuum bleeder to an air compressor.
  • Extract old fluid and replace it with fresh fluid; top off the master cylinder.
  • Access the bleeder screw and use a suitable wrench to loosen it.
  • Start bleeding until the fluid is clear and without bubbles (no air), then tighten the screw. Remember to use the rubber bleed nipple for the whole process.
  • Repeat for each wheel until you are done with all 4. The order is passenger rear – driver rear – passenger front – driver front. If the vehicle’s service manual instructs otherwise, follow it.
  • Remember to check the cylinder fluid level to make sure it’s full.

Note: To ensure there is no air leaking in the system during the process, guarantee that the bleeder valve’s threads are enclosed.

One way to notice if there’s air is to see if the brake fluid contains any air bubbles.

If you see bubbles during the process, seal the valve thread with sealant or specified tape to make sure it creates an enclosed environment.

If not, you run the chance of having your brakes soft after bleeding.

Also, remember to use an air compressor of at least 2 CFM for the process.

With DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluid, you can perform the process each 2 to 3 years.

After finishing the process, you could go all over again with the same calipers’ order to make sure they are on point.

Attach the bleeder again and give it a couple of pumps to ensure a clear stream of fresh fluid is heading out. Don’t forget to top off the brake fluid reservoir after that, though.

Contaminated Brake Fluid

Air leaking from outside is not the only way you have spongy brakes after bleeding. Due to its hygroscopic nature, brake fluid attracts moisture, a.k.a water molecules.

Pressing the brake transforms part of the kinetic energy to heat the brake rotors.

The heat then continues to heat the fluid inside, making it boil overtime when it is old and contains more moisture.

Boiled water molecules turn into steam and create air trapped inside the system. Hence, it is recommended that you change your fluid every now and then.

The most obvious indicator for this symptom is that it doesn’t appear every time you drive or test the brake.

It has to heat up first, so this issue will be covered in colder weather or if you only go for a short distance.

brake fluid tank
brake fluid tank

How To Fix

The simplest way to fix this problem is to have a proper bleeding technique, just like the above issue.

Old fluids are more prone to air and moisture, so you want to make sure you replace them entirely with fresh juice. Also, remember not to let air get in during the process.

If you screw up the first time you bled, bleed again with a decent process.

Another way to prevent this from happening soon is to use a higher DOT fluid. A DOT 5, for example, will have a higher boiling point and is less prone to steam and air problems compared to older versions.

A Leak or a Problematic Brake Hose

Another condition leading to air in brake lines after bleeding is a leak in the hydraulic system.

Since it works under pressure all the time, just a tiny leak can add up and cause a large amount of spongy air to affect your car’s performance.

Some of the most prone-to-leak brake components include brake lines, brake nipples, caliper seals, and brake hoses. Nevertheless, you should inspect the entire system for any possible leak.

One easy tip for figuring out where the leak is is to check the wet areas in the system since that is where the fresh fluid leaks out. 

In older cars, components like brake hose are also susceptible to wear and tears, leading to permanent damage and more severe issues along the line. 

How To Fix

After inspecting yourself or with the help of a mechanic, it’s best to replace any damaged part that is beyond repair. If there are only minor leaks, you can use special tapes or sealants to cover them.

Is It Safe To Drive With A Soft Brake Pedal?

Though it is possible that the brakes feel spongy after bleeding, especially after a poor bleeding process, you will rarely see your brakes not working after bleeding

car mechanic hands replace brakes garage

Nevertheless, it is hazardous to drive a car in such a condition. The most predictable case is that you will lose the control to stop or slow down your vehicle in an emergency, and if you drive fast, it calls for big-time dangers and accidents.

What’s more, the issue only adds up over time and will not repair itself, so if you are careless, you are betting on your safety.


Though dangerous, brakes still spongy after bleeding is not a complex issue to figure out and repair.

We hope that the article covers some of the broadest aspects of this condition, and you will have more confidence if you encounter it. See you in the next post!

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