Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

How to make brakes brake with less pressure?

I have a 2011 honda accord, and also tendinitis in my right ankle. When I press on the brake it makes my ankle hurt. I noticed when driving my friends 2016 subaru legacy that the brakes on it are much smoother and it does not hurt to press on the brake. It takes much less pressure to press the brake and have it engage. My rotors are rusty but not in the spot where the brakes touch, my wheel does not shake when I brake like it did once before when they needed to be resurfaced. Would replacing the rotors help? Is there anything else I can do to make my hondas brake more like the subaru legacy?

If you can locate another 2011 accord, say at a dealership used car lot, try taking a test drive. If that one’s brakes work better than your car, then yours may have a problem. Whatever it is should be fairly easy for a good shop to diagnose. Beyond that there’s not really much you can do. Theoretically there are lots of things you could do, but none of them are really practical, at least not in comparison to simply selling your Accord and buying another car that you know the brakes work like you want.

It is not an easy thing to learn after driving for years but some of us with right leg problems do left foot braking . Of course the vehicle has to be an automatic transmission.

1 Like

good suggesting about looking for another car of the same model line to check if your brakes behave differently

personally, I found Hondas to have quite a low-pressure brake pedal feel, where Toyotas I had a chance to drive had longer pedal travel and slightly more pressure to apply, at least to my subjective test

my Nissan Altima I consider to have a relatively low-pressure / short travel brakes, but once I replaced brake pads to ceramics brakes became even lower pressure to get to the same braking force (although I had noise issues later, had to replace)

surprisingly, I found a set of disks+ceramic pads from Canadian “Max Brakes” on ebay for around $100 and it has been wokring great on my car for around 1500 miles already, great response, no noise or vibrations

I bet getting brake disks/pads replaced with some decent set might get you what you need

1 Like

Having the brakes professionally bled and the fluid exchanged might help peddle feel, especially if the car has the original brake fluid.

OP, have the brake pads been changed? If the pads have been changed using an other than OEM pad, perhaps that could affect brake peddle feel?

A question for those that know more than I do on the subject- Do some friction materials provide more “bite” than others?

I’ve always used my left foot for the brake. I find it provides a faster reaction. In fact in 1964 in driver’s training I started right out with the left foot on the brake and the instructor said to use my right foot during class, then I could go back to left foot. So I did that and used my right foot for my driver’s test, but it’s been left foot all other times-except when I had a left foot problem.

Could you attach something to the bottom edge of the brake pedal so that it’s larger? I’m wondering if it would help if you could essentially press with your heel instead of the top or middle of your foot.

Also, on a longer drive, you could consider putting on an ankle brace like the ones used for volleyball.

I was reading that subarus can have “brake assist” and “brake booster” does this model car have them and is that why the brake seems easier to use?

No, brake assist is there for emergency situations only. When the car senses a “spike apply” to the brake pedal - which is what the driver does in an emergency - the system helps the car to straight to the ABS. Research found that people ween’t using the brakes to their full capability in emergencies so the car does it for the driver.

If the OP wants a lighter pedal, the quickest, cheapes way to achieve that is to use brake pads designed for track day driving as they have a higher coefficient of friction. They will be noisy and wear the rotors more but they require less pedal effort. My choice would be Hawk Brake’s Street-Race brake pads in at least the front.


1st make sure your entire brake system is working properly. The brake booster runs off of vacuum and any vacuum leak will take away from its effectiveness.

New rotors and pads will help if needed.

A more practical approach is to get a different friction material that will grab better than stock. Ask about Carbon Metallic pads. When they heat up they grab better. Ceramic pads are more known for not dusting as much, being quiet and lasting longer. I am not sure you would get what you are looking for with them…but I may be wrong. Ask at a good auto parts store. There is also a hybrid pad out now that is a combination of ceramic and semi metallic. Ask about them too.

Depending on how bad your pain may be you may need to look for a different car. I empathize. I injured my left knee once and had to sell a standard shift car that was only 1 yr old.

Some cars can have larger rotors put on the front. I one did that on a Mercury Sable and it helped the braking tremendously. But this is not something a conventional shop would do for you. You would have to go to a speed shop who is familiar with custom upgrades. The cost may also make it impractical vs getting a more suitable car. Good Luck.

What about the “brake booster” that the subarus’s have. Can that explain why it is easier to brake?

It can but the brake system is a TOTAL system design.

I can change the booster, or the caliper design, the master cylinder bore, the rotor diameter or the coefficient of friction of the pads to raise or lower the pedal pressure required for a given rate of stop. A smaller bore master cylinder would reduce pedal effort and increase pedal travel, too. A larger caliper piston would have exactly the same effect. All things affect the others.

I can’t tell you if the Subie booster is larger in diameter compared to the Accord, or if either are dual boosters. Since I don’t know the boost ratio of your Accord booster nor the Subie booster, I can’t tell you if that would be an improvement or not. I can’t tell you how much modification would be required to install a Subie booster in your Accord or if it would fit at all.

Swapping pads would be FAR easier and cheaper to do. Fronts first, rears if it still doesn’t stop as easily as you want. I’ve used these pads in my track car. The pedal effort is MUCH lower than factory pads.

Are those hawk brake pads full metallic or semi metallic? I don’t mind a slight noise but don’t want a loud squeal every time I break. How do they compare to regular semi metallic brake pads? I was also reading about hawk HPS pads which are supposed to be quieter, have you tried those and how do they compare?

Matt , have you tried in a empty large parking lot to use left foot braking ? As I said before some people can’t do it but some of use with right leg problems find it works just fine.

1 Like

They are ceramic-metallic and they can squeal quite a bit when you brake. Far more than metallics or ceramics. They are dirty, too. They will reduce your pedal effort, a lot.

Hawk Ceramics, HPS, Street 5.0 and HP Plus are all OK for noise but not nearly as low a pedal effort as the Street/Race. HP Plus is the highest bite or lowest pedal effort bit it is a trade-off, there are no free lunches.

I did try using left boot braking, but unless I can leave my foot on the brake, which I imagine I shoudlen’t do as it would wear down the brake pads quickly, it causes an old hip injury that usually doesn’t bother me to flare up since I have to constantly move my whole leg from the foot rest area to the brake and back again.

I know it is expensive, but have you looked into hand control conversion?

That will probably make the pedal even stiffer…

OP, I like what @Purebred is suggesting. If you have trouble braking with your foot, try braking with your hand. A simple hand control conversion isn’t all that expensive and will shift the burden off of your bum leg.

Does anyone know what type of brake pad the 2016 subaru legacy and 2011 honda accord have, so I know if it is worth changing the brake pads on my honda?

It’s not worth it. Brake pads aren’t going to help. At best they will “improve pedal feel,” which means “make the brake pedal stiffer.”