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Ask Smithy Xtra Volvo S40 braking issue

We own a low mileage 1999 Volvo S40 2.0-litre automatic, which has recently developed a braking issue. When braking gently and with constant light pressure on the brake pedal, such as when you are approaching traffic lights, the pedal feels spongy and will sink gradually towards the floor. This also happens when stopped at traffic lights, when the car is in drive and will creep forward unless you increase pressure on the brake pedal. If you lift your foot off the pedal and then brake more firmly, the pedal feels normal. Our mechanic has checked the entire braking system and replaced the brake fluid, and has advised that they believe that the problem is likely to be with the brake master cylinder. It would cost around $800 to repair and they cannot guarantee that it will fix the problem. Have you heard of this sort of problem? Do you have any alternative suggestions?

The first thing is to make sure the system is bled properly and there is no air in it to cause a soft, sinking pedal. Your mechanic might well be correct, that it is a master cylinder problem, but I would be checking the brake booster.

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