Brake Master Cylinder; or not?

We have a 2005 Toyota Camry, had it since 30K miles/2008, now has 94K miles. Since we have owned it, the brake pedal feel has not been great, kind of mushy. It is the way this generation Camry’s are. It gets driven mostly on fwy, so not much brake use. At 92K miles I changed the front pads and rotors, pads still had 30% left on them. The rotors were somewhat warped. Brake fluid has been gravity flushed every 2 years since 2008, last one in 2012.

Now, the problem is when wife drives it, twice at a lengthy red light, she has noted that the brake pedal “almost” sinks. It did not go to the floor, but the level went lower. The car did not move during this events. With the newer ABS brake systems, on all my three cars, after a full stop, I can push the pedal down further, almost close to the floor. The Camry is the same way, just with a baseline of mushy pedals. My wife only drives one of the other ones (Dodge Caravan,)and has not complained about that one.

The brake fluid level is solid/steady, no leaks at the wheels either.

Now looking at whats involved, seems I can change the master cylinder myself. The question is do I need to? I don’t mind paying a mechanic to do a diagnostic too, just not sure what they are going to do. I believe, just as a defensive measure, they will go ahead and change the MC (which then I might as well do it myself). I could also continue to drive it, but don’t want to be stupid here.

I would take the Caravan and test drive a 2005 Camry or two. See if their brakes are different.

Some 2005 Camrys had rear drums, some had rear discs. If yours has rear drums, your rear brakes could be out of adjustment.

The brake pedal shouldn’t sink at all while at a stop. This indicates that the master cylinder is leaking internally. This problem will get worse as the weather becomes hotter.

Replace the master cylinder.


Thanks for the comments. The rears are drums, has decent amount of meat on the shoes. The e-brake works fine, so doubt if the adjustment is off or that is my problem.

Had my wife test the Caravan today, says it is “normal” to her. She now states that the Camry pedal felt like when “she was helping me bleed the brakes”;

I think @Tester is correct as usual.

The dealer sells MC for ~$200, there are many on rockauto and seems like they have some bleed kit with them, much cheaper. Anybody has any experience on the aftermarket MC brands? I see Raybestose, Cardone, Napa, etc. Autozone has Fenco and I have an account with them, so if it is a decent brand I might go with that.

How much is the best one on rockauto?

Wagner $92.99
Raybestos (prof grade) $79.79
Add S&H

Fenco from Autozone is $100.99

In this price range I am more concerned over quality. Honestly, I would pay $190 for the Toyota too, but I think their quality was poor from the start.


I have a 2005 V6 Camry with 68K miles. Since I’m a mechanic and do all my own work, I bled my brakes using a diaphragm brake bleeder with the Toyota specific power probe adapter. I can say with certainty that I have absolutely no air in the system

The pedal feel isn’t great on this particular car, and there’s nothing I can do about it

My personal car stops just fine

I’m just trying to save you money for that master

I’d hate for you to buy the master, bench bleed it, install it, bleed the brake lines, only to have the same mushy pedal feel


But you have to agree. Once the brake pedal is depressed, and the hydraulic pressure has been established, the brake pedal should no longer sink to the floor?



All I can do is summarize what I’ve already stated

My own car has absolutely no problems with the entire brake system

It stops just fine

Yet the brake pedal feel leaves something to be desired

Perhaps @galant needs a master, but I wouldn’t count on it.

As far as YOUR posting, I can say this . . . on certain brake systems (hydroboost, in particular), it is possible to “push through” all the way to floor AFTER the pressure has been established and the vehicle has stopped . . . if you have a lead foot and WANT to push through for some reason.

There was a guy at work (a painter, whose work truck we service) who complained that he could push the pedal to the floor after the truck was stopped. I bled the brakes (because it was due, NOT because of his complaint). The brake pedal could STILL be pushed down. After talking with me, the painter’s boss told him that the truck’s brakes are operating normally, and he should stop wasting my time.

The painter had several previous accidents on record, which were proven to be his fault. And he was paranoid that another one would cost him his job, unless he was absolved of blame His boss told him to slow down, because his next accident could NOT be blamed on the brakes.


I know what you are saying about this generation Camry’s brakes. Mine has been mushy from 30K miles when I got the car. The problem I am having is that my wife claims that the pedal sinks after sitting behind a red light for a long time. This happened twice. When I push the pedal within an inch of the floor, I am using gorilla level force, my wife is not capable of doing half that. I am going to drive the car a bit in the hot summer heat here in CA and see what gives.

If you want to check if it’s the master cylinder don’t stomp the brakes. Instead come to a stop where you can hold the vehicle with the brakes. And leave the brake pedal at that level. If the brake pedal slowly starts sinking to the floor it’s the master cylinder.