I have a 2007 Honda Civic. A few months ago I noticed that I had to push the brakes down harder to get the car to stop. It started getting worse, getting to the point that when I would start the car and put it in reverse, flooring the brakes would have almost no reaction, and then they'd kick in and I'd be able to stop. This only happens sporadically.

The brake pads are fine, the brake system has been flushed and the master cylinder was replaced last week. Today as I was backing up (right after starting the car), I put the pedal to the floor and nothing happened for about half a second.

While driving, the brakes seem fine. This is typically an issue at low speeds (parking, etc.).

Any ideas as to what it could be?

  • Does it happen at low speeds, after driving for awhile? You may still have air in the system despite "flushing", depending on how it was flushed. If your car has ABS sometimes its tricky to fully purge the ABS pack. You say the brake pads are fine but if they are glazed / contaminated they can cause performance problems. Sep 26, 2017 at 17:10

4 Answers 4


And the brakes work fine after the initial start-up issues? I'd suggest a vacuum issue. Once the engine builds vacuum you have brakes. Check all vacuum lines to the brake booster. Carefully check the ends of the hoses/pipes for cracks or splits. Your car should "save" vacuum when it's turned off specifically for this purpose.

Did the repairs fix the original problem of a low pedal? (other than at start-up)

I have a 2012 Civic sedan and sometimes when I park with the nose pointed up a slope the pedal will be low for a second or so on start-up and then act normally. The pedal doesn't go to the floor, but it's definitely lower than normal.

What's weird is that even if you lose all vacuum, most (all?) cars will still have brakes; they'll just require a lot of effort and the pedal will be a little low.


Do you have rear drums? C Either way pull the Ebrake handle a few times, it helps with the whole adjusting process.

  • Some cars need to be rolling backwards when applying the hand brake to adjust the rear drums. I know my old Datsuns do.
    – Tim Nevins
    Sep 27, 2017 at 15:50

There could maybe be something on your rotor surface preventing the pads from grabbing until they’re rubbed off


Check the brake pads and make sure they're not coming apart. I've seen them where the friction material splits off the backing plate. You'll end up having poor to zero braking when changing drive directions without pumping the brakes. It will then continue to work reasonably normal while going the same direction.

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