Brakes are one part of your car you really don’t want to mess around with. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, brake-related problems accounted for about 22 percent of car crashes related to critical vehicle issues between 2005 to 2007. Therefore, you should always keep your brakes up to date to prevent a serious and potentially deadly incident. Here are the most important signs that signify it’s time to replace your brakes.
Screeching or Grinding Noise
If you’ve ever driven a car for a number of years, you’re probably familiar with the drawn-out whine that accompanies dying brakes. This torturous sound is created when your brake pad is beginning to wear down. If you ignore the sound and keep on traveling around town, you’ll eventually hear a grinding — this means you’re worn through your brake pad entirely and the metal of the brake caliper is rubbing directly on the metal of your rotor. Without timely replacement, this will also destroy your rotors, leading to a costlier trip to the mechanic.
Car Pulls to the Left or Right
If you lightly hold your steering wheel and apply the brakes while on a straight road, you should find the wheel stays relatively stable, keeping you driving within the lines as you slow down. However, when your brakes are starting to go, you may find your car pulls to the left or right when you attempt to brake.
There could be a number of reasons for this, including unevenly worn brake pads, a stuck caliper, or a collapsed brake hose. Regardless of the problem, this symptom definitely requires a visit to the mechanic for further diagnosis.
Vibrations When Braking
Generally, it should be quite easy to push your brake pedal; your foot should be able to smoothly press down. If you feel resistance, pulsation, or vibrations when pressing the pedal, it could be a sign of warped rotors. Rotors can become warped a number of ways, but generally, this problem is related to activities like frequently braking on hilly terrain or towing something behind your vehicle. The problem could also be misaligned wheels, so it’s best to take your car to the dealer for a full inspection to know for sure.
Pedal Is Soft
Another problem you might notice with your brake pedal is that it goes all the way to the floor with the slightest touch. In fact, you might push the pedal all the way to the floor without even engaging the brakes, a problem that could cost you your life if it happens on the road. This is usually a sign of an air leak in the brake system, leaky brake fluid, or a faulty hydraulic system.
With any of these problems, the only way to know the cause for sure is to take your vehicle back to your mechanic. Feel free to drop your car off at John Weiss Toyota Scion of South County to have us inspect your brakes and make sure everything is running smoothly so you can stay safe.
Image via Flickr by Phil_Parker | Licensed under CC BY 2.0