Spongy Brakes After Bleeding (Why & What To Do)

No other safety system of your car is as important as the brake system. For this reason alone, you must properly maintain your brakes. In particular, you should inspect the brake pad every 12,000 miles. While doing so, you should bleed the system to remove trapped air. Unfortunately, however, some car owners report issues after bleeding their brakes.

Spongy brakes after bleeding occur due to a leaky or damaged brake hose, the wrong bleeding kit used in brake bleeding, or contaminated brake fluid. Aside from brake bleeding, other causes include a damaged brake caliper, a leak in the wheel cylinder, or a bad master cylinder.

You’re on the right page if you experience spongy brakes after bleeding and you’re looking for possible solutions. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of the issue in-depth and how you can solve them.

First, let’s look at why it’s important to bleed your brakes.

The Importance of Bleeding Your Brakes

The fact that you might get sponges brakes after bleeding your brakes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. On the contrary, bleeding your brakes is an important part of brake system maintenance as it helps remove air bubbles in the brake line.

The air within your brake lines will significantly affect the brake fluid, which makes the brake inefficient. This is because the brake system is hydraulic, and hydraulic systems need high pressure to transfer fluids. Therefore, they need to be as air-tight as possible to achieve this high pressure. So, the pressure decreases if air is trapped in the brake fluid.

The good news is that the brake system comes air-tight from the car manufacturer. As a result, the air inside the brake fluid isn’t a problem you’ll always deal with. Nevertheless, it’s recommended that you bleed your car brakes every two to three years.

It’s not an activity you can handle yourself. So, take it to a professional mechanic shop whenever you want to bleed your brakes. Having a professional handle the job will also reduce the likelihood of getting spongy brakes afterward.

How To Tell if You Have Spongy Brakes

A spongy brake is one of the easiest brake issues to diagnose. A common indicator is when your car can no longer maintain its brake pressure. Instead, the brake pedal sinks to the floor with no resistance when pressed down.

Another indicator that you have spongy brakes, perhaps the simplest, is if your brake warning lights stay on. Your brake warning light can stay on due to any brake system issue, among which can be spongy brakes.

Finally, a spongy brake is a possible culprit if you always need to pump your brakes to slow down your car.

Common Reasons For Spongy Brakes & Their Solutions

Now you know the importance of bleeding your brakes and how to know if you have spongy brakes. Check out some common reasons for spongy brakes and how to fix them:

1. Leaky or otherwise damaged brake hose

As stated before, your car’s brake system is hydraulic. So, if the hose is leaky or damaged, the brakes become spongy. As a result, the brakes can stop working entirely in some cases.

Your brake hose can spoil if it’s always subjected to high heat, turning, flexing, and high pressure. Over time, these factors cause cracks and holes in the hose.

If the brake hose leaks, a simple fix would be sealing the leaking area. You can do this with a high-quality hydraulic sealant, which you won’t spend much on.

On the other hand, if the brake hose is damaged, you have to replace it. A brake hose replacement will cost you between $150 to $200.

2. Inadequate brake bleeding

The purpose of bleeding your brakes is to remove trapped air inside the brake lines. Not removing the trapped air could lead to spongy brakes after bleeding or worse situations. Similarly, if you don’t bleed the brakes properly, it could also result in spongy brakes.

Inadequate brake bleeding occurs when there’s still trapped air in the brake system after bleeding. This occurs with a poor bleeding kit or if an inexperienced mechanic did the job.

You can avoid this by simply ensuring proper brake bleeding. For that, you’ll need a working bleeding kit or brake bleeder. Although it depends on the car you drive, you can carry out proper bleeding for around $100 to $150.

3. Contaminated brake fluid

Brake fluid contaminates with time, so It’s advisable to change your brake fluid every 3,000 miles or two years. If you don’t do this, spongy brakes are just one of the many issues you will experience with contaminated brake fluid.

But fortunately, this has a simple fix. At most, you’ll spend $50 to get quality brake fluid. But then, all you have to do is to flush out the old, contaminated brake fluid and replace it with the new one.

However, you may be unable to do all these on your own. If that’s the case, then you should take your car to a professional mechanic shop. You’ll pay between $150 to $200 for the labor.

Brake bleeding isn’t the only cause of spongy brakes.

4. Bad master cylinder

The master cylinder is what drives pressure in your car brake hydraulic system. Without it, applying and stopping brakes become a challenge.

Your car parts will wear out and start leaking if you drive with a master cylinder. And if the master cylinder leaks, there’s air and less pressure in the brake system, which can cause spongy brakes.

If you have a bad master cylinder, the solution is to replace it. Doing so will cost you between &150 to $550. You may pay a little higher if you hire an expert to install the replacement master cylinder.

5. Damaged brake caliper

Brake calipers are among the brake system’s most popular and important parts. They’re responsible for slowing your vehicle down when you apply the brakes.

Spongy noise is a notable symptom of a damaged brake caliper. Other symptoms include fluid leaks and reduced braking ability. If you notice any of these, it’s critical to first confirm the caliper involved. It could be the front caliper or the rear caliper.

When you identify the damaged brake caliper, you must replace it with a new one—getting a new brake caliper replacement will cost up to $85 to $100 for the front calipers. The rear calipers cost up to $90 to $110.

6. Leak in the wheel cylinder

Your four car wheels feature a wheel cylinder, which works to apply force to allow a moving vehicle to stop. Notably, your wheel cylinder can get holes and scratches due to pitting and corrosion with the cylinder walls. In particular, this happens over time if you ignore regular maintenance.

Like the leaky or damaged hose mentioned previously, you can seal the leaking area with a quality sealant. But if the leak is excessive, you may need to change the entire wheel cylinder. A wheel cylinder replacement will cost you around $150 to $200.

Dangers Of Not Fixing Spongy Brakes

Hearing spongy noises whenever you apply your brakes can be an inconvenience. But it’s nothing compared to the dangers of not fixing the spongy brakes immediately.

Notably, spongy brakes can lead to brake failure. If you’re unaware, brake failure accounts for over 300,000 car crashes yearly. You can avoid increasing the number by fixing your spongy brakes immediately.

Furthermore, it could lead to uncontrollable brakes, which means you can lose control of your vehicle anytime. Again, the outcome can be a grave accident.

When it comes to cars, the earlier you detect and fix a problem, the easier and more affordable it is. But, unfortunately, ignoring your car’s spongy brakes could lead to a more serious issue that’ll cost you more time and money.


Leaky or damaged brake hoses, contaminated brake fluid, and inadequate brake bleeding are some common causes of spongy brakes after bleeding. However, they are not difficult to fix, and it’s critical that you fix them early so they don’t result in a more serious problem.

If you fix them and the spongy brake issue persists, then it is not due to brake bleeding. Instead, it could be due to a damaged brake caliper, a bad master cylinder, or a leak in the wheel cylinder. It’s also not difficult to fix these other issues, but some will cost you a notable amount.