What Causes Sudden Volvo Brake Failure?

Sudden brake failure is the last thing you want to experience when driving. Unknown to many people though, sudden brake failures are hardly ever ‘sudden’. There are always signs that precede the failure. It gets better for people who drive Volvo models, which are known for safety and efficiency especially where brakes are concerned. If you are keen and observant you will notice a few red flags which you must fix as soon as you can. Only then can you drive to anywhere at whichever speed without ever worrying about sudden brake failure. Here’s why it happens.

Brake Fluid Leakage

It doesn’t matter how small a fluid leak is. Fix it before it eventually damages the master cylinder. The damage occurs as soon as the leak allows air into the system. The air then causes low peddle which in turn causes brake operation failure. It gets worse where the fluid leak is huge. The fluid will escape and cause a sudden brake failure on one half of the brake system either at the front or rear side. Note though that Volvo braking systems feature master cylinders with built in safety devices. Your model most likely has one cylinder with two separate hydraulic systems – the primary one, which is the main one and a secondary hydraulic system. This design separates front and rear brake operations. What this ultimately means is that in case the front or rear brake system fails, one system will still work.

Brake Fade

This is mostly caused by overheating brake pads. Use of poor quality is yet another cause of brake fade. Note that if you have a bad brake booster, you will eventually have problems with the brake pedal.  Take no chances here and replace your blades. Keep in mind that a low brake pedal is a clear red flag that your brake power boost level unit has hit rock bottom. Most modern Volvo models are vacuum controlled, so you will need a vacuum measurement gadget connected to the brake booster to inspect your brake power boost unit.

Defective Brake Hoses

Brake hoses run from brake lines all the way to the calipers and to the wheel cylinders.  They are easy to maintain. Simply make sure they are not exposed to road grime, dirt and salt. These elements make rubber brittle before they crack. Before long, brakes fail, sometimes suddenly. Replace the hose as often as your mechanic recommends, then have the mechanic inspect the hose or do it yourself at least once every month.


You probably do not know this but water in the brake fluid is dangerous. As soon as the fluid heats, water will vaporize. The steam that comes off after heating can be easily compressed. This is not the case with water. It just cannot be compressed, so braking will be hard if not impossible. With water in the fluid, the braking effort will not be transmitted to the wheels but will dissipate because of the water presence. That is why you must change your brake fluids often as is recommended by your mechanic.