2003 Honda Odyssey minivan brake pedal hurting my foot - can it be "tightened?"

My 2003 Honda Odyssey’s brake pedal requires a lot of pressure - a friend also tried it and said compared to sedans, he was really needing to press hard, too. The auto shop said there was no way to “tighten” the brakes, and they said the brakes were in perfect condition. Can brakes on a 2003 Odyssey be adjusted so I don’t rupture my Achilles tendon driving?! Thanks.

Should it be assumed that you recently purchased this car? I’m wondering if your prior car had a softer pedal and the Honda just seems stiff in comparison.
There’s always a chance of a brake booster issue or vacuum issue I guess but without having foot on pedal I can’t say one way or the other.

The brake pedal on my Sonoma pickup feels stiffer than the one on my Lincoln. The brake pedals on my former SAABs were also a bit stiff but the Subarus were softer.
Nothing wrong with any of those vehicles.


No, I’ve had the Odyssey 10 years. The Odyssey brake pedal is SOFT - and it needs so much force it’s killing my aging foot.

I wonder if the master cylinder is worn out internally so that the brake fluid is escaping past the piston when you depress the pedal. This would explain why the pedal feels soft but requires a lot of pressure to stop the vehicle.
The brake pads are probably what the mechanic checked.


Reading comments from other Odyssey owners, a number of others have the same complaint, while others report their brakes are fine. Dealer repairs, under warranty, report no problems, even compared to other new Odysseys. Several owners say they are fine at slow to moderate stops, but hard in panics.

I assume your vehicle has done this the last 10 years? The mechanic might have to pull the master and or power booster and check them, but it sounds like that’s the way the van was built. You might ask your mechanic if there are different (softer) pads available. If it was a new problem, there is a report of the hose to the power booster having a pin hole in it.

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Have you had the brake fluid changed and the brakes bled? New fluid and the elimination of any gas bubbles might help some. If you haven’t had this done, it’s a good idea, regardless.

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At 17 years of age it’s entirely possible the master cylinder could be failing. As texases mentions, changing the brake fluid could be worth a shot.

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This is unclear. Is this a new symptom or has it always been this way?

Not only unclear but if it is hard to use now why would you want to tighten it.

Assuming this is an automatic has left foot braking been considered .

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You could have it, there. Install a bigger brake pedal and use both feet? :smiley:

Seriously, I hadn’t thought, if automatic, the left foot could always be on the brake pedal. I occasionally still see that on the freeway.

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2024 Update - I’ve been braking with my left foot! And doing lots of massage on right foot - AND using cruise control helps.

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That’s definitely an unusual problem you’ve got there. I don’t recall seeing it posted here before. Since the foot massaging and cruise control is doing the trick, seems the problem is solved. Good for you :slight_smile:

It’s still one of the hardest brake pedals I’ve ever used - I’ve rented about 30 different car models on trips since I first started this thread! - and I test-drove the 2024 Odyssey - brakes were easier than my 2003. BTW I’ve also had three mechanics tell me other people have mentioned the same problem.

I’m guessing the 2024 is configured w/ disc brakes on all four wheels. Does your 2003 use a front disc, rear drum configuration? If so, that might be part the explanation for the hard to press pedal. An Odyssey is a pretty big vehicle, and might need disks all around to achieve the easier to press brake pedal.

Another possibility, maybe there’s a difference in the diameter of the front rotors, 2003 to 2024, but I’m not finding much difference in spec. Could be something more simple also, like the brake booster isn’t working perfectly. But that seems unlikely given the comments of others who say the same thing about the 2003.

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The opposite, @George_San_Jose1.

Disk brakes require more fluid pressure to operate than drums. Drums self energize to multiply the incoming pressure and disks don’t. Their friction radius can also be larger than a disk brake that fits in the same size wheel. 4 wheel drums require less brake booster to provide the same level of braking.


2003 has 11.81" front rotors
2023 has 12.595" front rotors (2024 in the system I looked at)
So a little over 3/4" difference, just a FYI if interested… lol

20 years newer, just a better braking system, I have to be careful after driving my older vehicles when I get in a much newer vehicle, cause if I hit the brakes the same way a lot of them will almost bounce your head off the steering wheel if not careful… :laughing:

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I was used to my Volvo’s excellent brakes, but after driving a co-worker’s Lincoln Continental Mark IV (whose brakes gave only a slight suggestion of slowing-down), for a few minutes I had a hard time readjusting to the Volvo’s brakes.

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Older cars had the inherent benefit of making us better planners.


I do that every time I drive a rental! You’d think I’d remember…