Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Vacuum Brake Booster Check Valve

brake booster check valve

Bad or Failing Vacuum Brake Booster Check Valve Inspection

by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office

Many vehicles employ a vacuum brake booster in order to provide additional power to the braking system. It's designed to provide consistent flow of hydraulic brake fluid to the brake master cylinder while increasing brake pressure and helping heavy vehicles stop more easily. This component is common on a variety of consumer cars, trucks and SUVs. From time to time, the vacuum brake booster is susceptible to damage or typical wear and tear. This includes the brake booster check valve.

The check valve is designed to suck out air that is trapped in the brake booster without letting additional air enter the cylinder. This protects the brake lines from developing an air bubble which can seriously impact braking performance. This part connects the body of the brake booster to the vacuum hose and is a safety solution that still allows the brakes to work – even if the engine is shut off.

Typically the vacuum brake booster check valve is not inspected during routine maintenance, but there are times when this part can show signs of wearing out or that the booster check valve has failed entirely. Here are a few of those warning signs so you can determine if a potential problem with your vacuum brake booster check valve exists. Remember, these are common warning signs that should be professionally diagnosed by a certified mechanic and properly repaired.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get an $80 diagnostic
by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

1. Brake pedal is difficult to engage

When the vacuum brake booster check valve is working correctly, applying pressure to the brake pedal is easy and very smooth. When the check valve is not working correctly, the operation of the brakes becomes much more difficult. Specifically, the pedal goes from smooth and soft to aggressive and very difficult to press down. This is due to the excess pressure inside the master cylinder, which the check valve is designed to regulate. The inconsistency of the brake pedal is a warning sign that a potential safety issue exists with the brakes and should immediately be inspected by a certified mechanic.

2. Brakes feel spongy

As the problem with the vacuum brake booster check valve increases, air bubbles will progressively move down the brake lines and to the brakes themselves. In this case, the air that is supposed to be removed by the check valve enters the master cylinder and then into the brake lines. This causes a reduction of pressure inside the brake lines and can cause the brakes to be applied softly. While driving it will feel as if the brake pedal is spongy, however, the brakes will also take longer to stop the vehicle.

This situation calls for an immediate inspection of the brake system. When air enters the brake lines, it typically becomes trapped due to the fact that brakes are hydraulically controlled. In order to remove the air from the brake lines, the brake system will have to be bled. As such, when you experience a problem like this in your vehicle, stop driving it as soon as possible and have the entire brake system professionally examined.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get your car fixed at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

3. Brakes stop working

The worst-case scenario occurs when the vacuum brake booster check valve completely breaks and eventually leads to a brake system failure. Hopefully you never get to this point, but if you do, safely stop the car, have the vehicle towed back home and contact a mechanic who is certified with brake system inspections and replacement. Depending on what actually broke, the repairs can range from simple vacuum brake booster check valve replacement to complete brake system repair and replacement.

The vacuum brake booster check valve is important to your braking system, and acts as a safety feature. It's due to these facts that the problems and symptoms above should not be ignored or put aside for another day. Contact a certified ASE mechanic to inspect, properly diagnose, and make appropriate service adjustments to your brakes.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...


Related questions

Q: Brakes don't work properly. Hard to push - 1960 Jeep CJ5

Since you do not have power brakes, a clogged hose line or fitting may be the cause or a sticking/binding caliper may be the issue. You may want to enlist the help of a mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic,...

Q: 2002 Escalade idling issue

Watch my video "how to fix a car that’s idling poorly." A lot of times, there's carbon built up in the throttle, so clean it up and it will stop doing that. You'd also want to check for vacuum leaks....

Q: How to remove driver side valve cover

Hey there, thanks for writing in. The reason you cannot get the valve cover off is likely due to the intake manifold needing to be removed before the valve cover will clear enough to get it off the engine. If...