Is it Time to Have Your Brakes Checked?
Among the multiple systems that modern cars feature to keep passengers safe, brakes are among the most critical. After all, there’s no better way to avoid an accident than by stopping before one can happen. But not every car owner knows how to make certain that their brakes are in good working condition. And if they aren’t – everyone in the vehicle can be in grave danger.
Fortunately, it’s not that difficult for a car owner to tell if they might need to get their car’s brakes checked. Most vehicle braking systems will provide some subtle clues that they require replacement or repair. It’s very unlikely for your car’s brakes to fail without warning, so picking up on those clues can be the difference between a safe ride and one that ends in tragedy. Here’s what they are.
1. Strange Noises When Braking
Modern automobile brakes work by applying pressure to each wheel’s rotors, which generates friction to slow the vehicle down. But the brake pads and rotors are made of materials that allow for quiet braking operation. So anytime you hear unusual noises when you brake, it should get your attention.
If you haven’t driven in a while or if your car has gotten wet, it’s not that unusual for your brakes to squeak or squeal the first few times you apply them. This is due to a thin layer of rust forming on the rotors from the moisture. It should go away after a few uses of your brakes.
But if you begin to hear a squeal from your brakes every time you use them and it doesn’t go away, it could be your brake pads warning you that they’re wearing out. Brake pads contain wear indicators designed to make a squealing noise when they need replacement. So if you begin to hear a persistent squeal – or any other unusual sound – it’s time to get your brakes checked.
2. Increased Braking Distance
Although a smaller vehicle typically needs less distance to come to a stop than a large one, most modern cars take between 120 and 140 feet to stop when traveling 60 mph. And if you begin to notice that your car is taking longer than usual to come to a stop, you need to get your brakes checked. Increased stopping distance could result from worn brake pads, a brake line leak, or a brake fluid leak. Any of those can lead to an accident, so it’s important to get the problem fixed promptly.
3. Changes in Brake Pedal Resistance
Another sign that you may need to get your brakes checked is changes in the feeling of the brake pedal or the amount of resistance you feel when applying the brakes. If your brake pedal feels spongy or mushy, or it sinks further to the floor than usual when you step on it, it often means something is wrong with the brake system. It could be a brake fluid leak or even the first indications of a component failure in the system. In any case, you should get your brakes checked as soon as you notice any changes to the feeling of your brake pedal.
4. Vibration in Steering Wheel or Brake Pedal
Sometimes your car’s brakes will offer a less direct indication that they need attention. One common sign is a feeling of wobbling or vibration – typically in the steering wheel – when braking. You may also feel this in the brake pedal itself. The trouble is, there are a few things that can cause it to happen, and not all of them have to do with your brakes. However, feeling such vibrations can be a sign that your rotors are warped or uneven. And over time, this will ruin your brake pads, too. And in any case, feeling vibrations in your steering wheel is an indication of trouble somewhere in your vehicle’s steering and braking system, and you should have your vehicle checked right away.
5. Vehicle Pulling to One Side When Braking
When you step on the brake pedal, your car’s brakes are built to apply even braking force to each wheel (unless your ABS activates). For that reason, all of the wheels should slow down at the same rate. If that doesn’t happen, you’ll notice the car pulling to one side or the other when braking. This may be a sign that one of your brakes is malfunctioning. It may be the result of a collapsed brake hose or a stuck caliper and is a sign that you should get your brakes checked as soon as possible.
Brake Failure is Not an Option
It should go without saying, but it’s never safe to drive a vehicle with faulty brakes. But it’s quite rare for a car’s brakes to fail without warning. So if you pay attention and stay on the lookout for the signs of trouble above, you should be able to get your brakes checked long before they become a danger to you or the passengers in your vehicle. And you’ll enjoy miles and miles of safe travel – just as you’d expect to.
Contact us at Mario LoMedico Exotic Motors, 732-747-6720, and we’ll inspect and diagnose your brakes. We do disc and drum brake service, ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) Diagnosis, Master Cylinder check, Brake fluid flushes and much much more.