One of the most important aspects of vehicle safety is a properly functioning braking system. The braking system in your vehicles is made up of many components including the brake pads, rotors, Anti-lock braking system, master cylinder, valves, brake lines and pedal. With so many working components to a vehicle’s braking system, each piece needs to perform as designed. One weak link in the chain can damage the entire system and lead to dangerous and expensive breakdowns. Luckily, most modern vehicles are designed with warning indicators to help you determine when your brake pads are worn and it’s time for new brakes.
It is important to pay attention to the sounds and feel of your vehicle while you are driving, as this can reveal valuable information about your car’s health. We’ve compiled a short guide to help you identify warning signs from your vehicle to help you prevent costly and avoidable brake repair.
Squeaking and Grinding Sounds.
Squeaky brakes are usually the first sign it’s time for a service. Once your brake pads are worn down to a certain point, a small metal indicator will become exposed. This indicator is made of a different material than your pads, which is what makes the “squeaky” noise while applying pressure to the brake pedal. If ignored, the squeaking will eventually become a grinding as the brake pad wear down to an unsafe level. Once the grinding starts, it’s likely the worn pads are starting to wear down the rotors and cause further damage.
Slower Stop Times
Another warning sign your brakes need to be serviced is what we call in the industry “brake fade”. Essentially this just means it takes your vehicle longer to stop than it used to. This is typically caused by driving a certain way, and or driving regularly on steep or winding roads that require frequent braking. Braking over long distances without coming to a complete stop will eventually wear the pads and rotors down by overheating them and reducing the friction, and in turn your stopping ability.
Braking Causes Pulling
If you notice your steering wheel pull to one side or the other while braking, this can be a sign your brake pads are wearing unevenly. This can also be a sign your alignment is off or a deeper issue somewhere in your steering mechanism, so do not wait to get your car or truck in for diagnostics. If left unchecked, further damage to your vehicle’s steering rack can, and most likely will occur.
Vibration While Braking
Do you notice vibration while pressing down your brake pedal? This is usually a sign it’s time for new pads and rotors. As brake pads wear down, the resin material heats up and spreads across the rotors. Typically the pads wear evenly and the rotor surface remains smooth. In cases where your brakes overheat, this material can spread unevenly across the rotors causing a vibration when applying pressure to the brake pedal. Unfortunately, this is an issue that will not correct itself over time, and you should bring your vehicle in for service ASAP.
In many newer model vehicles, warning indicator lights will appear on your dash when the brakes are ready to be serviced. If you’re unsure of what the brake indicator light looks like, refer to your owner’s manual for clarification. It’s always best to bring your vehicle in as soon as you notice a warning indicator light as it can be a sign of a much larger problem. The only way to know without a doubt is through a proper diagnosis.
While we may not have covered every warning sign you may encounter when dealing with worn or failing braking systems, we have covered the most common. It’s always important to be familiar with your vehicle, the sounds it makes, and how it operates while driving. Your brakes are without a doubt one of the most important elements to safe vehicle operation, and noticing a problem before it becomes major can literally save your life! If you have any questions on our ASE Certified Brake Repair Services, give us a call today! One of our team members will gladly answer your questions and schedule a service if needed.