Ford F-150/F-250: Why Does My Brake Pedal Go to the Floor?

A brake pedal that goes to the floor is a scary problem. Here is what to do if it happens to you.

By Scott Deuty - November 11, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and F-250 Super Duty (2005-2014).

If you hit your Ford F-150 or Super Duty's brake pedal and it goes to the floor, stop the vehicle and don’t drive it until you find a solution to this problem. Most repair shops offer free brake inspections. If you are stuck on the side of the road, there are some aspects to consider yourself, and because brakes are a closed hydraulic system, it is easy to determine the cause of the failure. Start your inspection by following the steps below until you find the source of the issue.

Figure 1. Braking system.

Step 1 - Check for leaks

The quickest way to check for a leak is to look at the master cylinder brake reservoir. If it has fluid in it, then check for a puddle underneath the truck. Inspect further for leaks along the lines, at the wheels, and below the master cylinder on the fire wall. It is important to fix any leaks before driving the truck again. If leaks are eliminated as the problem, then the actual cause is most likely due to failure within the system itself.

Figure 2. Checking for leaks.

Step 2 - Check for air in the lines

The failure to the system may be due to air in the lines. If the reservoir is full, try pumping the brake pedal to see if the pressure returns. If it does, you most likely have air in the lines. If you have air in the line, you will need to bleed your braking system.

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  • How to Bleed Your Brakes -
Figure 3. Checking for air in the lines.

Step 3 - Check the master cylinder

If no pressure returns, then the master cylinder may be malfunctioning. Listen to hear if the brakes engage while pushing the pedal. If they don’t, your master cylinder most likely is not pushing fluid out to the slave cylinders.

Figure 4. Checking the master cylinder.

Step 4 - Inspect the slave cylinders

When the brakes leak, there is no back pressure to the pedal. Check each wheel individually to see if the brake is in place and the cylinder is functioning properly. You may have to pull the wheel to inspect. Remember to leave calipers and drums in place when depressing the brake pedal to avoid any over extension.

Figure 5. Inspecting slave cylinders.

Pro Tip

Always carry spare brake fluid. Check the brake fluid when checking other fluids. Inspect the brake system regularly, especially after encountering obstacles on and off the road. Look for brake line clearance after any modification, especially to the suspension or exhaust. As always, it’s better to discover a potential problem in your garage than to have it occur when on route.

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