By October 16, 2006 3 Comments Read More →

New Brake Pads Feel Spongy and Soft

Hello There Austin,

I replaced the brake pads on the front of my ’03 Honda Civic and as soon as I started driving the car I noticed a big difference in the way the brakes feel. Now they seem a lot softer and kind of spongy, and I need to push it to the floor to stop the car. I am assuming that the calipers were rotated when the pads were replaced, I need to check on that.

Could you please tell me what might be the issue?

Thanks, Vic

Hey there Vic,

You paid someone to do the brake job .or you did it yourself? I’m assuming you mean the brake rotors were trued (not the calipers were rotated) when the brake job took place. The rotors should be trued to extend the life of the new brake pads and make the brake application smooth feeling inside the car.

If the rear brakes were not touched, and only the front pads were replaced:

The first thing that comes to mind is the wrong type of pad was used there is a semi metallic and an organic type of pad, if you use the wrong one it wont stop with a darn and they will wear out very quickly. I am not sure for certain which type your vehicle uses, but the parts book used to order the pads will tell them which one to use.

So, I would take it back and ask them to triple check the brake pad type and make sure the correct ones where used and if they trued the rotors, which will give you a better job in the long run.

If they did something to the rear b rakes as well, I would suspect the rear brakes are out of adjustment. Try stopping the vehicle with the parking brake from 20 MPH, does it stop the car or does the car continue to roll with the park bra ke applied. If it rolls, the rear brakes probably need attention. Hold the release button in as you pull on the emergency brake .so you can control the vehicle.

More about brakes

Austin Davis

Follow up from Vic

Dear Austin,

Thanks for your prompt e-mail.

I got my brake pads changed at one of the leading franchise, not at a Honda dealership, and they replaced my semi-metallic brake pads that were worn out with Ceramic pads.

Yes, the rear brakes were not touched.

What are the options that I have right now? Can I have them replace the brake pads with a semi metallic pads by warranty? Will they entertain such a request?


Hello again Vic

Well if they truly did install the wrong type of brake pad, yes, that should be replace as a warra nty no charge to you. You can’t swap out the types of pads without changing the rotors. If it came with semi metallic you must use semi metallic. The main complaint when switching pad types is lack of stopping power just like what you are experiencing.

I would just for grins though, check the rear brakes with the experiment I mentioned just to make sure the rear brakes are not out of adjustment. If the rear brakes are not doing their part of the stopping, it will prematurely wear out your front pads.


Austin C. Davis

Dear Austin,

Thanks for your very prompt responses. I did take my car to a different store and had them do a complete brake inspection. My car was in for a 45k mile servicing too. They adjusted cleaned and lubricated the rear brakes and did a brake system flush.

The brakes seem to be OK now, but it does not stop the car as I would like it to, which I assume is due to the fact, as mentioned by you, that different type of pads were put in the car.

Incase, if I get my brake pads changed to Semi Metallic, through warranty, do I have to do a brake flush again?

Also, I need to get your advice with my older Honda Civic. I purchased this ’01 Honda Civic from a private party who had done all regular maintenance (The ones suggested by Honda Manual) at a Honda dealer when it had about 52,000 miles this Jan ’06.

Last month, the alternator stopped to charge the battery and I had to replace it. When compared to my ’03 Civic, it definitely lacks power, and cries when entering the freeway from the ramp (40mph to 60mph)

The dealer suggested the engine is not that powerful. But with the same engine spec, ’03 Honda performs the job with ease.

I recently got Trans flush, Fuel Induction cleaning & coolant system flush in this car. The performance still remains the same, though the pickup might/might not have increased.

Do you think I might have purchased a bad car?I am very much concerned that I should sell/trade in this car right away. Do you suggest I hang on to this for some more time, and ignore the failed alternator as one rare case?

I am sorry I am naive when it comes to autos, and I am learning more and more about it.

I sincerely appreciate your help.

Looking forward for your advise.



Hello again Vic,

Sorry for the delay, I was out of town this past weekend.

On the brakes, no you do not have to flush the brake fluid again, just replace the pads.

On the alternator, a weak or defect battery, or an oil leak that is leaking oil inside the alternator are the two main killers of an alternator. So if your battery is older than 4 years old, replace it. Check to make sure there is no oil getting inside the alternator like from a leaking valve cover gasket.

On the lack of power. You might want to replace the fuel filter if it has more than 25K miles on it, and you might want to ask your mechanic to Advance the ignition timing just a touch to see if that gives you more power. Advancing the timing is quick and easy to do, and can provide more power. You do not want to advance it so much as to hear a clattering/pinging noise in the engine as you accelerate. That could damage the engine.

The Civic is a great car, keep it.

Have a great day!

Austin C. Davis

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."
  • Mike Salisbury

    89 Octane? — Only if that is the octane rating recommended by the manufacturer! Higher octane gas is only for higher compression engines to prevent pre-ignition (pinging). You can use the lowest octane rating that does not ping.

  • Dahrann

    Your answer was just what I needed. It’s made my day!

  • Jacek

    I can believe you have so many
    problems with this civic. I purchased a brand new civic for my wife back in 2003. I have been doing all the maintenance myself. If you get yourself a book you can do a better job than any mechanic – after all it’s your car. For the lack of power. I would do as follows
    1. Check the spark plugs and cables. You can easily replace them yourself at a low cost. I would recommend the platinum ones.
    2. Change the fuel filter. You
    can do it yourself as well.

    3. Change the air filter.
    Lastly if these steps dont work you need to check your timing by the dealer or fuel injectors, but with that kind of mileage you should not have any problems with the last two. Lastly My advise is to use always 89 octane gas, Dealer recommends anything above 87. I would always go with 89. My wife has been driving this civic like a mad woman 25,000 miles a year, and and the car at almost 65,000 miles feels like new