How to Tell If You Need New Brakes: 9 Warnings Signs to Look out For
It is not always easy to tell when you need new breaks, but some warning signs point to it. Here is how to tell if you need new brakes.
Every year, there are approximately six million car accidents in the United States. About five percent of these accidents are the result of faulty brakes. That’s hundreds of thousands of car crashes.
As a car owner, you need to know how to tell if you need new brakes, so you keep yourself and other road users safe. Your car’s brake system is among the most critical systems in the vehicle. So what warning signs indicate that it’s time to get new brakes?
One of the best things about your vehicle’s brake system is that when it has a problem, it’ll always give you some clear signs. Below are nine telltale signs you need new brakes.
1. The Brake Light Comes On
If you drive a modern vehicle, chances are it has warning lights on your dash. One of these lights is your car’s brake system warning light.
Several things can make your brake indicator light come on. The light, for instance, can come on when your parking brake isn’t released all the way. Sometimes, the light indicates that your vehicle’s inspection is due.
A braking light could also indicate that your braking system has a severe problem. That’s why you need to have a brake system professional take a look at the issue.
2. There’s a Squeaking or Squealing Noise
Noise is one of the first indications of most of the troubles that assail a vehicle. If you hear a squeaking or squealing sound every time you apply your car’s brakes, consider checking the brake pads right away.
When a vehicle’s brake pads are at the end of their useful life, you’ll start to hear a squeaking or squealing noise. Squealing usually indicates that the brake pads are excessively worn down.
3. There’s a Grinding Sound When You’re Braking
As soon as the brake pads are worn enough, you’ll begin to hear a grinding noise. At this point, you’ve started to damage your car’s rotors, and the cost of repair will be much higher.
Many pads today come with built-in metal wear indicators, which make a loud noise to alert you when to replace brake pads. Ignoring these sounds can lead to serious trouble.
4. There’s Leaking Fluid
When you find that it’s much softer whenever you brake, chances are your car’s brake fluid is leaking somewhere within the system. Often, the leak is in the master cylinder, which creates all the power for your car’s brakes.
The master cylinder has a reservoir of brake fluid. When you apply your car’s brakes, the liquid is pushed through piping to create hydraulic pressure and slow down or stop your vehicle. When there’s a leak within the system, your car’s brakes fail, which could lead to a crash.
It’s the reason you need to act swiftly the moment you suspect there might be a leak in your brake system.
5. There’s Wobbling or Vibrations When You Brake
If there’s shaking or vibration in your car’s steering wheel when you apply your vehicle’s brakes, then the brake rotors are likely warped. Rotors are discs that sit inside your car’s wheels. When you apply brakes, the brake pads hug these discs and slow them down.
Rotors need to be even and smooth to work efficiently. But after numerous revolutions over a long period, they can develop variations. Rotors can also become warped as a result of severe braking for extended periods, for instance, when towing cargo or driving down a steep road.
The wobbling or vibration you experience, therefore, is the result of brake pads not being able to grab the rotor surface evenly. Take your car for brake servicing so that the warped brake rotors are smoothed and evened out.
6. Your Vehicle Pulls to One Side
A vehicle that pulls to one side every time you apply brakes may have a caliper problem or a brake hose that’s gone bad. Often, it means that one of the brake calipers is applying more pressure than its counterpart. The result is unbalanced stopping.
Take the car to a brake expert to diagnose the problem and fix it right away.
7. There’s a Burning Smell
When you smell a burning smell or chemical odor when you apply brakes, you have a severe problem and need to pull over immediately. Give your brakes some time to cool. The chances are that your brake fluid is boiling, and that could cause brake failure.
If there’s any smoke coming from your car, the vehicle is most likely unsafe to drive. Have it checked as soon as possible.
8. Your Car Takes Longer to Stop
Another top sign that your car needs new brake pads is if there’s a loss of performance when you apply brakes. That’s why it’s essential to know how to check brake pads so you can establish whether they’re the cause of your car taking longer to stop.
Sometimes, low brake fluid can lead to decreased responsiveness to braking. Either way, you want to get a brake inspection right away.
9. Your Brake Pads Are Visibly Thin
Inspecting your brake pads for wear is perhaps the easiest way to tell whether they’re worn down. Simply look between the wheel spokes and examine the brake pad. Typically, the outside brake pad is pressed against the metal rotor.
If the brake pad appears less than a quarter-inch thick, it’s time to get a replacement.
Know How to Tell If You Need New Brakes
One of the most important things you need to know as a driver is how to tell if you need new brakes. Driving a car with faulty brakes can put you and other road users in danger. The moment you suspect that something is wrong with your brake system, take your car to a technician as quickly as possible.
The great news is that brake maintenance isn’t expensive, as long as you deal with any issues sooner instead of later.
Are you looking for high-quality auto repair in Brighton, MI? Contact us today to see how we can help.