New Brakes Not Stopping Well: 7 Expert Tips for Improved Braking Performance

New brakes not stopping well may indicate a problem with the braking system. Inadequate stopping power could be due to worn brake pads, low brake fluid, or a malfunctioning brake booster.

If you encounter a situation where your brakes are not performing as expected, it is crucial to diagnose and resolve the issue promptly. Ignoring the problem can compromise your safety on the road and may lead to more significant and costly repairs in the future.

This article will guide you through the potential causes of poor brake performance and offer solutions to get your brakes functioning optimally again.

By understanding these common issues, you can take the necessary steps to ensure your brakes stop your vehicle effectively and reliably every time you hit the brake pedal.

1. Diagnosing Inadequate Braking Performance

Experiencing insufficient braking power with new brakes? Diagnosing the cause of the issue is crucial. Identify potential factors such as worn brake pads, hydraulic system problems, or inadequate brake fluid levels to ensure optimal stopping performance.

By understanding the signs of poor braking performance, you can identify the issue and take the necessary steps to address it effectively.

Signs Of Poor Braking Performance:

  • Longer stopping distances: One of the most noticeable signs of inadequate braking performance is when your vehicle takes longer to come to a complete stop. If you find that you need a significantly greater distance to bring your vehicle to a halt, it could indicate an underlying problem with your brakes.
  • Brake pedal feels spongy or soft: When the brake pedal feels spongy or soft when you press down on it, it is a clear indication that your brakes are not functioning optimally. This lack of resistance could be due to air in the brake lines or a problem with the brake fluid.
  • Grinding or squeaking noises when braking: Unusual noises, such as grinding or squeaking, can signal a problem with your brakes. These sounds may indicate worn brake pads or other issues that need attention. Ignoring these noises can lead to further damage and compromised braking ability.

Being aware of the signs of poor braking performance is essential for anyone driving a vehicle with new brakes. By paying attention to indicators such as longer stopping distances, a spongy brake pedal, or grinding and squeaking noises during braking, you can identify potential problems and take action before the situation becomes worse.

Don’t ignore these signs; prioritize your safety and the safety of others on the road by addressing any issues promptly.

2. Checking Brake Components

If your new brakes are not stopping well, it is crucial to check the brake components. Ensure that the brake pads, brake rotors, and brake calipers are in good condition and functioning properly to maintain optimal braking performance.

Here are the key components you should check:

Inspecting Brake Pads And Rotors:

  • Check the thickness of the brake pads. Measure the thickness using a caliper and compare it to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Examine the wear indicator on the brake pads. If the indicator is visible, it indicates that the pads have worn beyond their recommended thickness and need to be replaced.
  • Look for any uneven wear on the brake pads, which can indicate a problem with the caliper or rotor.

Scoring Or Grooves On The Rotors:

  • Inspect the rotors for deep scoring or grooves. These can cause decreased braking performance and should be addressed.
  • Measure the rotor thickness and compare it to the manufacturer’s specifications. Resurfacing or replacement may be necessary if the rotors are too thin or damaged.

Examining Brake Calipers:

  • Check the brake calipers for any signs of damage or leakage. Damaged calipers can cause uneven braking or even complete brake failure.
  • Ensure that the calipers are securely mounted and not loose or rattling.
  • Verify that the caliper slide pins are properly lubricated. Lack of lubrication can cause the caliper to stick, leading to poor braking performance.

Stuck Or Seized Caliper Pistons:

  • Gently push the caliper pistons back into their bores. If the pistons are stuck or seized, it can prevent proper brake pad contact with the rotor.
  • Inspect the dust boots on the caliper pistons for any signs of damage or deterioration. Damaged boots should be replaced to prevent debris from entering the caliper.

Proper Lubrication Of Caliper Slides:

  • Ensure that the caliper slides are well-lubricated with high-temperature grease. Proper lubrication allows the caliper to slide smoothly and ensures even brake pad wear.
  • Clean the slides thoroughly before applying fresh grease to prevent contamination and potential sticking.

By thoroughly checking these brake components, you can identify any issues affecting your new brakes’ stopping performance. Proper maintenance and servicing will help return your brakes to their optimal working condition.

3. Upgrading Brake Pads And Rotors

If your new brakes aren’t stopping well, consider upgrading your brake pads and rotors for improved performance. By replacing worn-out components, you can ensure safer and more efficient braking on the road. Trustworthy mechanics can help you find the right options for your vehicle.

In this section, we will explore the benefits of upgrading to performance brake pads and rotors, as well as guide you on choosing the right brake pad material.

Choosing The Right Brake Pad Material:

When it comes to selecting the right brake pad material, it’s essential to consider the specific needs of your vehicle. Different materials offer varying levels of performance and characteristics.

Let’s take a closer look at the three common brake pad materials: ceramic, semi-metallic, and organic.


  • Excellent heat dissipation properties, making them ideal for high-performance vehicles.
  • Quieter operation compared to other materials.
  • Longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.


  • Offers excellent stopping power, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications.
  • Better heat dissipation than organic pads.
  • Can be slightly noisier and produce more dust compared to ceramic and organic pads.


  • Affordable option for everyday vehicles.
  • Quieter operation and produce less dust compared to semi-metallic pads.
  • Tend to wear faster than ceramic and semi-metallic pads.

Remember to consider your driving style, vehicle type, and the conditions you typically drive in when choosing the suitable brake pad material.

Benefits Of Upgrading To Performance Brake Rotors:

Aside from upgrading your brake pads, upgrading your brake rotors can also play a crucial role in improving your vehicle’s braking performance.

Here are the key benefits of upgrading to performance brake rotors:

Enhanced heat dissipation:

  • Performance brake rotors are designed with improved heat dissipation properties, allowing them to handle higher temperatures without a decline in performance.
  • This helps prevent brake fade and ensures consistent stopping power even during prolonged and aggressive braking.

Improved braking performance in extreme conditions:

  • Performance brake rotors are built to withstand extreme conditions, such as towing heavy loads or driving in mountainous terrains.
  • They provide superior braking performance, allowing you to stop quickly and reliably, even in challenging situations.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your brake pads or rotors, or both, it’s essential to choose high-quality components that match your vehicle’s needs.

By doing so, you can significantly enhance your car’s braking system, ultimately improving your safety on the road.

4. Bleeding The Brake System

To improve the efficiency of your new brakes that are not stopping well, consider bleeding the brake system.

By removing air bubbles and replacing old fluid, bleeding the brakes can help restore their optimal functionality and ensure a safer driving experience.

Why Brake Fluid Needs To Be Bled Periodically:

Brake fluid plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of your brake system. Over time, brake fluid can become contaminated with dirt, moisture, and air bubbles, which can significantly impact its performance.

Bleeding the brake system is essential to remove these contaminants and ensure optimal brake function.

  • Brake fluid contamination: Contaminated brake fluid can hinder the brake system’s ability to generate sufficient hydraulic pressure, resulting in poor braking performance. Dirt and moisture can enter the system through worn or damaged brake hoses, seals, or connections, causing corrosion and decreased fluid quality.
  • Air bubbles in the brake lines: Air trapped within the brake lines can lead to a spongy brake pedal feel and reduced braking power. Air can enter the system during brake repairs, fluid changes, or due to a leak. Bleeding the brake system removes these air bubbles, enhancing the effectiveness of your brakes.

Steps For Bleeding The Brake System:

Bleeding the brake system is a straightforward process that can be done at home, provided you have the necessary tools and follow the correct steps.

Here’s a brief overview of how to bleed your brake system effectively:

  • Locate the brake bleeder valves: Each wheel in your vehicle’s brake system has a brake bleeder valve. These valves are typically located on the brake calipers or wheel cylinders. Refer to your vehicle’s manual to find the exact locations.
  • Prepare the brake bleeding tool or enlist assistance: To bleed the brakes, you’ll need a brake bleeding tool, such as a vacuum pump or a brake bleeding kit. Alternatively, you can ask someone to assist you by operating the brake pedal while you open and close the bleeder valves.
  • Start with the furthest wheel from the master cylinder: Begin bleeding the brake system from the wheel farthest away from the master cylinder. This process ensures that all air and contaminants are expelled from the entire system.
  • Open the bleeder valve: Attach the brake bleeding tool or have your assistant press the brake pedal. Open the bleeder valve to allow the fluid, air, and contaminants to escape. Ensure that the bleeder valve is closed quickly before releasing the brake pedal or removing the bleeding tool.
  • Repeat the process: Repeat the bleeding process for each wheel, moving progressively closer to the master cylinder. This sequential approach ensures that you purge the entire brake system of any trapped air or contaminants.

Bleeding your brake system periodically will help maintain the overall performance and safety of your vehicle’s brakes. It’s a relatively simple process that can be done as part of regular brake maintenance or when you notice poor braking performance.

By following these steps and using the correct tools, you can ensure that your brakes are functioning optimally and provide reliable stopping power.

5. Ensuring Proper Brake Fluid Level And Quality

Proper brake fluid level and quality are essential for the optimal performance of new brakes. Maintain a close eye on the levels and ensure the fluid is in good condition to ensure your brakes stop well.

Importance Of Maintaining The Correct Brake Fluid Level

  • Regularly checking and maintaining the proper brake fluid level is crucial for ensuring your vehicle’s braking system works effectively and safely.
  • Brake fluid is responsible for transmitting the force applied to the brake pedal to the brake components, enabling them to generate the necessary friction to slow down or stop the vehicle.
  • Insufficient brake fluid can lead to a loss of braking power, compromising your safety on the road.
  • Brake fluid also plays a critical role in preventing corrosion and maintaining the longevity of brake system components.

Low Fluid Can Cause Loss Of Braking Power

  • Insufficient brake fluid can result in a noticeable decrease in braking performance.
  • When the fluid level drops, there may not be enough hydraulic pressure to engage the brake pads or shoes effectively.
  • This can lead to increased stopping distances and compromised control over your vehicle.
  • In extreme cases, a complete loss of braking power can occur, putting you and others at risk of accidents.

Checking Brake Fluid Quality And Contamination

To ensure your brake fluid is in optimal condition, it is important to:

  • Regularly inspect the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the location and proper procedure.
  • Verify that the fluid level is within the recommended range, usually indicated on the reservoir itself.
  • Observe the color of the brake fluid. Fresh brake fluid is typically clear or slightly golden in color. If it appears dark or murky, it may be contaminated and should be addressed promptly.
  • Note any peculiar odors emanating from the brake fluid. A burnt smell can indicate overheating or degradation.
  • Check for the presence of particles or debris in the fluid, as this can affect its performance.

Signs Of Dirty Or Degraded Brake Fluid

Signs that indicate your brake fluid may be dirty or degraded include:

  • A noticeable decrease in braking effectiveness or pedal responsiveness.
  • A spongy or mushy feel when applying the brakes.
  • The brake pedal sinking to the floor without much resistance.
  • Unusual noises when braking, such as grinding or squealing.
  • Brake fluid leaks or pooling around the wheels or underneath the vehicle.
  • The presence of air bubbles in the brake fluid, either visible through the reservoir or when bleeding the brakes.

Fluid Replacement Intervals

To maintain optimal brake performance, it is essential to adhere to fluid replacement intervals recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. While these intervals can vary depending on the make and model, a general guideline is to replace the brake fluid:

  • Every 2 years or 30,000 to 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • Sooner if you frequently drive in heavy traffic or engage in more strenuous driving conditions.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the recommended brake fluid level between replacements.

By staying vigilant and prioritizing the proper brake fluid level and quality, you can ensure your vehicle’s braking system operates at peak performance, enhancing safety and peace of mind on the road. Remember, when it comes to your brakes, regular maintenance can save lives.

6. Adjusting The Brake Bias

When it comes to braking systems, achieving the right balance between the front and rear wheels is crucial for optimal performance. This balance is called brake bias.

Understanding brake bias will help you diagnose and address any issues you may be experiencing with your new brakes.

Here’s a breakdown of the key points to understand about brake bias:

Distribution of braking force between front and rear wheels:

  • Brake bias determines how much force is applied to the front and rear wheels during braking.
  • In most vehicles, there’s a bias towards the front brakes to ensure efficient stopping power.
  • The distribution of brake force varies based on factors like weight distribution and vehicle dynamics.
  • Proper brake bias ensures stability and prevents issues like excessive nose-diving or rear-wheel lock-up.

Steps To Adjust The Brake Bias

If you find that your new brakes are not stopping well, it may indicate an imbalance in the brake bias. Adjusting the brake bias will help optimize the braking performance.

Here are the steps to adjust the brake bias:

Identify the type of brake bias control system:

  • Brake bias can be adjusted manually or electronically, depending on the vehicle make and model.
  • Manual brake proportioning valves allow for manual adjustments to the brake bias.
  • Electronic brake proportioning valves adjust the brake bias automatically based on real-time inputs.

Locate the brake bias adjustment device:

  • Manual brake proportioning valves are typically located near the master cylinder or brake lines.
  • Electronic brake proportioning valves are usually integrated into the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS).

Adjust the brake bias:

  • For manual brake proportioning valves, turn the adjustment screw or knob to increase or decrease the brake bias.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the optimal brake bias setting.
  • Test the vehicle’s braking performance after each adjustment to ensure the desired results.

Consider professional assistance if needed:

  • Adjusting brake bias requires knowledge and expertise.
  • If you’re not confident about performing the adjustment yourself, seek the help of a qualified mechanic or technician.

Remember, proper brake bias adjustment is crucial for your safety on the road. If you’re unsure about the process, it’s always recommended to consult a professional who can ensure your brakes are adjusted correctly.

Now that you have a better understanding of brake bias and the steps to adjust it, you can take the necessary actions to improve the stopping power of your new brakes.

7. Seeking Professional Assistance

Experiencing difficulties with your brakes can be a serious concern. While some minor brake issues can be resolved through DIY efforts, there are times when seeking professional assistance becomes imperative.

In this section, we will explore the situations where consulting a professional mechanic is highly recommended.

Let’s delve into the details:

When To Consult A Professional Mechanic:

Persistent braking issues after DIY attempts:

  • If you have attempted to address brake problems yourself but the issues persist, it is crucial to consult a professional mechanic.
  • A professional has the expertise to identify underlying complications that may have been overlooked during your DIY attempts.

Complex brake system repairs:

  • When confronted with intricate brake system repairs, consulting a professional mechanic is advisable.
  • Advanced repairs, such as replacing brake lines or repairing the master cylinder, require specialized knowledge and technical skills.

Finding A Reputable Brake Service Provider:

When it comes to entrusting someone with your brake system, it is essential to find a reputable brake service provider. Here are some effective ways to locate reliable professionals:

Asking for recommendations:

  • Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have had positive experiences with brake service providers.
  • Personal recommendations can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision.

Checking online reviews and ratings:

  • Examine online reviews and ratings of brake service providers in your area.
  • Look for consistent positive feedback and ratings to ensure that you choose a reliable and trustworthy professional.


If your new brakes aren’t stopping well, it’s important to address the issue promptly. Ignoring brake problems can lead to dangerous situations on the road. Start by checking the brake fluid levels and replacing any worn-out brake pads. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to have your brake rotors inspected and potentially replaced.

While it can be frustrating to deal with braking issues on a new car, remember that these problems can arise due to manufacturing defects or improper installation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your car manufacturer or a trusted mechanic for assistance.

By taking the necessary steps to address the issue, you can ensure the safety and reliability of your vehicle’s braking system for years to come.

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