Why Are My ATV Brakes Feeling Squishy?

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee

Why are my ATV brakes feeling squishy? This is what one Suzuki KingQuad owner wants to know after getting in an accident and the ATV AnswerMan is on the job.

Here is exactly what the reader asked the ATV AnswerMan, followed by his response:

So, I’ve got some small issues with my Suzuki King Quad 450 and I could really use your help. I had a little accident about a month ago and my husband nor I can figure out what I have done to my machine. In our defense, we are both nerds and not mechanics but the closest dealer for Suzuki is over an hour away. Here’s the skinny on my plight. I rolled over a couple of times going across a large field when I found a ditch that I was not expecting. I’m ok, thanks for asking, but my poor atv has suffered something fierce. When my husband pulled up and turned the quad over it was leaking oil from underneath and he said its all in the air box. The handle bars were bent down slightly, and the brake reservoir must have hit something because when I tried to pull in the brake lever it just felt like there were no brakes. The fluid squirting from the little broken thingy on the side gave it away. Yeah, I took a tumble.

After getting all of the oil out of the air filter box and cleaning the air filter my old girl started up but not without issues. So here is the problems we cannot seem to get right. The bars weren’t too hard to get back up and thanks to a neighbor they feel ok but the brakes still aren’t right. We bought a used brake reservoir and ted our neighbor helped us install it as well as add some fluid so its full again. But the brakes just will not hold anymore and it seems like the lever is just squishy but not very good. Also, one other thing that has us baffled is the motor runs revved up like your holding the gas but I am not. No matter how our friend tried to adjust it the thing just revs and revs. What can we try before resorting to the long drive into town?

Wow, it seems like your little tumble might have been more like a full on crash. The good thing about this is that you are indeed ok and on the mend. As for the Suzuki KingQuad 450, I would say there could be a few more things to check out. For one, the throttle cable might be your problem with a high idle. When the bars were bent down the cabling might have been pulled tight or stretched to a point and even though you have reset the bars, the cable might still be pulled a little too tight. This cable runs along the tank and back to the middle of the framework, so maybe the neighbor could help troubleshoot that issue. I’d say it’s most likely just as simple as that.

As for the braking problems, when you purchased the new/used brake reservoir and installed it did you bleed the brakes properly? This could be the main cause of your light braking problem. Unlike most cars, it is just not good enough to simply add fluid. ATV brakes need to be bled so that any air bubbles in the system are freed and only good brake fluid remains. When you crashed and the reservoir was broken it allowed air into the system. That squishy feeling in the lever is most likely air trapped in the lines. I would say if you do not have a dealer close that a mechanic’s shop should be able to help. It takes patience and a general knowledge of what you’re doing to get it right.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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