What is a brake master cylinder replacement?

A brake master cylinder replacement involves removing the old brake master cylinder and installing the new one after fully testing it. This process is difficult and requires special equipment—you can’t safely do this at home in your driveway or garage, unlike some other forms of car maintenance.
Depending on the make and model of your car and the repair shop you take it to, this repair will usually cost between $200 and $500 if you’re using aftermarket parts, though this repair might cost up to $750 to $900 for some makes and models. 
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are always considerably more expensive and can make a brake master cylinder replacement cost over $2,000 for some cars. 

How to perform a brake master cylinder replacement

Here are the steps your mechanic will follow during a brake master cylinder replacement:
  • First, disconnect all of the brake lines from the master cylinder
  • Disconnect the brake fluid level sensor from the brake master cylinder fluid reservoir
  • Remove the brake master cylinder by unbolting it from the brake booster or the firewall, depending on the type of braking system
  • Bleed off air from the master cylinder body in the new brake master cylinder. This process requires a professional workspace and special tools you won’t have at home
  • Bolt the new brake master cylinder back onto the brake booster or firewall
  • Reconnect the brake lines and the fluid level sensor
  • Bleed air, fluid, and other contaminants and particulates from the brake lines, and use a bidirectional scanner to actuate the ABS pump (if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes)
  • Road test the vehicle to make sure the brakes are functioning normally and safely.

Do I need a brake master cylinder replacement?

If your car encounters any of these symptoms, it might be a brake master cylinder issue, or something else. You’ll want to take your car to a professional mechanic immediately if you encounter any of these symptoms.
  • The brake system warning light is illuminated on your dash. This might be a check engine light, or a “brake” or “ABS” light.
  • Your brakes are acting strangely or not working like usual. Does the brake pedal feel spongy? Does it depress slowly or come back out slowly? Does it feel like it’s sinking? These are all tell-tale warning signs of a faulty brake master cylinder.
  • The car swerves when you press the brake pedal. You might notice the car swerving, drifting, or weaving when you press on the brakes. If one wheel is getting more braking power than another, the car will swerve a bit as a result. Get this checked out immediately!
  • Fluid is leaking from your car. This can be any number of issues, any of which should be looked over by a mechanic immediately.
  • The brake master cylinder looks damp, or wet, or like it might be leaking. If the master cylinder reservoir looks damp, that’s often a sign that the brake master cylinder needs replacing and might struggle to operate the brakes properly.

How important is a brake master cylinder replacement?

A faulty brake master cylinder can lead to a total failure of your brakes, and a very serious car accident could follow. 
If your car’s brakes are not performing as they should if braking performance feels weakened, or if you suspect you may need a brake master cylinder replacement, get your car serviced immediately.
If the brakes feel unsafe, don’t attempt to drive them to the shop. You may need to hire a tow truck to bring your car to the shop. The repair shop should have good, cheap recommendations for towing services. 

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