My Brakes Won’t Stop The Car

Reader Question

Hello Austin,
My stepmother had an interesting problem with her 96 Honda Accord LX 2.2 liter car. While stopping at intersection her brakes wouldn’t work without practically standing on them. She said the engine never quit but that the radio went out.

When she took it to get repaired, they said it was loose and corroded battery cables and that was it. Now I was under the impression that one could disconnect the battery on a running engine and it would still run. Why would the brakes go out if the engine is still running? I’m worried they haven’t fixed the problem and that she is still driving in danger.

Is this sounding right to you?
thank you for your time,

Hi There Arik

Thanks for your email, no it does not sound right to me either.

If the brake pedal was very hard – and hard to push, then I would suspect that the vacuum brake booster was at fault and was not supplying the “power” to her power brakes.

A brake booster can fail, but usually when it does it is broken for good…meaning it does not fail then work properly again on its own. If the engine lost power, or if the idle speed dropped low enough, the engine might not have produced the vacuum needed to activate the booster.

If the brake pedal was normal feeling and she was able to push it down as normal but the brakes did not do their job. I would suspect that there might be something on the brake shoes and pads like water or brake fluid from a leak in a brake hose.

If the pedal was very soft and she was able to push it farther down than normal (like to the floorboard) then I would suspect a faulty brake master cylinder or very low brake fluid.

In any case, this problem will probably have to happen again to properly diagnose it. If she has not had a brake inspection in awhile I would advice having all the wheels taken off and inspect the brakes for wear and look for any brake fluid leaks etc.

Keep me posted will ya?

Please share this with your friends,

Austin C. Davis

Posted in: Brakes

3 Comments on "My Brakes Won’t Stop The Car"

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  1. Edison says:

    I had a brake job done on my truck a month or so ago and ever since then I would have a really hard time stopping when I was pulling my trailer. I would have to mash on the pedal real hard and give extra time to stop than I did before. Found out the mechanic did not adjust the rear brake shoes so they were hardly working!

    • Austin Davis says:

      Yes, even “mechanics” can get sidetracked and forget to do simple tasks that make up the repair. I have seen mechanics install the rear brake shoes upside down, there is a primary shoe and a secondary “trailing shoe” and you can invert them which will decrease stopping power. People are human and make mistakes 🙂

  2. Dale says:

    Hummm, my car did the same thing and my mechanic spent $500 more of my money trying to fix it. Should have read this earlier.

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