I have a 2009 Honda Accord. All 4 brakes were recently serviced so I don't think this is related to pads or rotors needing attention. When I first start driving, when I hit the brakes, there is a distinct gurgling / bubbling sound that comes from the brakes. After hitting the brakes a few times, this goes away, and doesn't return until the car is idle for awhile again. The brakes seem to be performing fine, and there is no "feel" of grinding or anything - it definitely seems liquidy. Reading a bit online, this may be related to cold weather, and I do live in New England so it is getting cold here.

What is causing this noise? Is this normal or does something need servicing? Obviously I could bring it into my mechanic, but I don't want to do so if this is a non-issue.

  • 1
    I'm having a hard time coming up with a scenario where there's a liquid gurgling sound associated directly with the brake system. Is there a chance you're mistaking a kind of low rumbly growl for this gurgling? If so, it could be surface rust on the rotors. Otherwise if it is in fact a liquid sound, I'm thinking the likely candidates are the coolant overflow tank or the A/C system. When you say "car sits idle for a while" do you mean idle but running, or parked, not running, for a while? how long is a while?
    – mac
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 14:51
  • I've had cars with where the rotors would grind in the past, and this feels and sounds very different. I guess it could be rotor rust, but it sure sounds like bubbles of some sort. It is definitely related to braking as that is the only time I hear the sound. When I say "sitting idle" I mean if the car is parked and turned off for probably an hour. If I just go into a store for 5 minutes and come back, then the sound won't occur on braking. Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 10:58
  • Sounds like your first plan of attack is to have a pressure test done on your cooling system, and have your brakes bled. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 0:33

2 Answers 2


Whoever serviced your brakes probably tried to 'bleed' them, and if you hear gurgling I think it was done wrong. Now there's air in your brake system, and it's readily apparent the first few times you use your brakes each day as the air is pushed through the system.

Needless to say, you need to have your brake bled properly. If you're comfortable with it, it's pretty darn easy to do as long as you're careful and thorough and you understand that if you screw up you won't have any brakes.

Or, you could also take it back to the mechanic and say they need to bleed the brakes again, though personally I wouldn't trust an auto mechanic that doesn't take care to bleed brakes properly.

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    If that was trapped air, I would assume it went away after gurgling stops. Perhaps there's an air leak inside?
    – Kromster
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 5:25
  • I very much doubt that one could hear trapped air in the brake system.
    – mac
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 14:46
  • I'm siding with you mac, but he says the gurgling happens when he applies the brakes, that sure points to the problem being related to the braking system until we get more information. Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 20:35

If you're hearing a distinct gurgling, I'd start by looking at the coolant system. It's possible that the deceleration of braking creates a condition where the gurgling noise happens, maybe in the coolant overflow tank.

The fact that this happens on a cold startup, and will happen again after only a one hour shutdown I think supports the coolant system theory--one hour is enough time for the coolant to cool back down. Check the level of coolant in your overflow tank.

The other system that could cause a gurgling noise (though a bit of a different sound) would be the A/C system. Sometimes as the refrigerant goes through the expansion valve you get a hiss/bubble noise.

I'm really doubtful that this is directly related to the hydraulic brake system--there's just not enough fluid to make an audible gurgle (also there's not the potential for enough air to be moving through the brake system to gurgle, even if the system wasn't properly bled). I think if there's a connection to braking, it'd be due to the deceleration of the car affecting some fluid in some other system of the car.

  • I agree with this coolant theory also. I don't believe it to be anything with the braking system, but if you feel the brake pedal is a bit liquidy then it could be that your brakes were not Bled correctly. Spongy brakes are usually a sign of air in the brake lines. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 7:25

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