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Common Signs of Brake Problems

Friday, June 22, 2012

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Your car’s brakes are an important function and safety feature of your vehicle. The following warning signs indicate there is a problem with your car’s brakes that needs servicing.

Visually Check the Brake Pads

You can visually check the wear of your car’s brake pads by looking at the pad through the spokes of your wheel. Well-functioning brakes will have a minimum ¼ inch of brake pad. If you see less than that ¼ inch of brake pad, the pad needs to be replaced.

Listen to Your Brakes

When brake pads need to be replaced you will often hear a very audible whining or screeching noise. This loud noise is called a metal shim and is indicative of excessive wear and tear or a malfunction with your brake pads. As soon as this is heard, take your car to a mechanic to figure out what the issue is.

Vibrations

A vibrating brake pedal when the anti-lock brake system is not active indicates your rotors are warped. Rotors become warped when brakes are used heavily or “ridden” for long stretches, like when towing cargo or moving down an extreme incline. The intense friction resulting from these circumstances heats the rotors and that heat allows them to warp out of shape. Brake pads then create a vibrating sensation because they cannot consistently grab onto the rotor.

Unresponsive

If your brakes aren’t responding as well as they should be there is a leak somewhere in your brake system. There are two possible sources of the leak. The brake hose could be leaking air, which is hard to immediately detect. The other possibility is a brake fluid leak. If the brake fluid is leaking there will be a puddle underneath the car which will resemble oil.

Metallic Grinding Noise

When brake pads begin making a metallic grinding noise they have worn down entirely. The worn out pad disc is rubbing against the brake caliper and that produces the grating noise. If you do not take steps to replace the worn pad and possibly the ground disc, the rotor can become damaged due to scratching or scoring. Scored rotors often need to be turned or replaced.

Worn down or damaged brake systems are dangerous and expensive to repair if left unattended. When you experience any of these warning signs, visit the mechanic immediately.