Mushy brakes


'06 Nissan Frontier 2wd, 28k mi. Within the last 1000 miles I’ve noticed I have to press the brake petal down lower to get them to grab. No failure - YET. Going to take it to the shop Monday. What could be the problem? Brake fluid level is fine. Thanks.


Pushing the pedal further is not the same as “mushy”. Are you saying they feel like stepping on a sponge? How far down do you have to push them? If they are still firm, there may not be a real problem. OTOH, they are brakes. Your life depends on them. If you think there is a problem, get them checked. Just don’t get them checked at Midass or you will certainly need a complete brake job, including rotors and calipers. I’ve heard of $1000 brake jobs coming from them. Find a good indy shop in your area here: Use it, and tithe to it regularly.


If drum brakes are on the rear, the self-adjusters may not be working correctly.


Try this. Find a large fairly empty parking lot. Make sure that you can see all around you. Get towards one end of the lot. Put vehicle in reverse gear. Accelerate up to about 10-15 mph. Press on the brake pedal moderately. Let off the brake pedal. Do this procedure again. When you’ve gotten close to the other end of the lot, turn around and repeat two or three times. Are your brakes grabbing at a higher pedal now? If so, they just needed to be adjusted. This is how they get adjusted. Do this a couple of more times just to ensure that your brakes are adjusted as best as they can be. If it didn’t work, take your vehicle into a good independent brake shop or a good general repair shop and get your brakes checked out. It could be a simple matter of gunked up adjusters. A decent shop can clean those up and have them operating properly quickly. If it’s worse than that, then get done what needs to be done. It doesn’t matter so much as to how fast you can go. It matters much more on how quickly you can safely stop. With those relatively low miles, my guess is that you do a lot of forward driving, don’t back up much, so your brakes don’t get adjusted.


Perhaps profhandy knows specifically for your vehicle, in which case disregard this, but some vehicles also adjust the rear brakes when you use the parking brake, so if you’re one of those people who never uses their parking brake this can also cause this issue.


Also note that this type of adjustment mechanism works by the rocking back and forth of the rear drum’s shoes within the drum. If you don’t drive frontwards between rearward applications, the shoes won’t reset so as to push on the adjuster. Repeatedly applying the brakes while backing up WILL NOT adjust them.

Note that the Nissan Frontier doesn’t rear drums, so this point is moot.

Brake fluid id hygroscopic. That is it takes on water from the atmosphere over time. This water will boil out if the brakes are used to the point of boiling water. When water boils, it creates bubbes. sMy guess is that you have used the brakes to the point where you got them hot enough to boil water. They now have air in one or more of the brake lines or calipers.


Correct, 4 wheel disc and no ABS. MG McAnick: I now have to push the pedal a little below halfway to get braking. I thought it used to be 1/4 way down when truck was new. Tomorrow they will inspect the brakes. Still have emergency brake and a 6spd manual trans. Thanks.