Q: My car is experiencing braking problems.

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I've had my Dodge Neon for about three years now, and it has always made a strange sizzling sound like water hitting something hot when it rains. The sound comes from the front passenger side, and happens when I turn the wheel after starting it up in rainy weather. I took it to a mechanic to figure out what was going on, but they couldn't reproduce it, and couldn't find anything obviously wrong.

For the last six months or so, I have noticed this random thing happening where I will brake slightly, and the car makes a shuddering "thump-thump-thump" and then that's it. I can't make it happen, and I haven't noticed any correlation in events, like with the rain.

Then yesterday, I put my car into reverse to back out of a parking spot on a very wet, rainy day, and my brakes seemed to fail momentarily. Scared I was going to back into someone, I kept pushing the brakes down, and finally, just in the nick of time, they worked. Now, they're fine. What the heck is wrong with my car??!

My car has 72000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A failing master cylinder may cause an intermittent lack of pressure in the braking system. As far as the sizzling noise, a seized brake caliper can cause some pressure to be applied to the brake on that corner of the vehicle and cause heat from fiction any time that wheel is moving. If the brake assembly on that corner gets hot enough, it can cause the brake fluid in the line to boil and even cause the brake pad to burn and smoke. Consider hiring an experienced technician like one from YourMechanic who can come out for a closer look and offer a more personal diagnosis of your braking concerns.

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