Never Ignore These 7 Signs of Brake Problems
Your vehicle requires routine maintenance, and it’s tempting to put off chores such as brake servicing and oil changes. However, your car’s brakes are crucial to your and your family’s safety on the road. Don’t skip brake maintenance, and take your vehicle into a reputable auto repair shop if you notice any of the following warning signs of brake problems.
7 Warning Signs You Need Brake Repair
Your car or truck will usually let you know that something is going on with your brakes, but you have to pay attention. Look out for these signs that it’s time for new brakes.
1. The Brake Light Is On
The easiest way to tell if your brakes need servicing is the brake light on the dashboard. The brake light is usually either red, orange, or yellow, and it’ll be fairly obvious. When the brake light comes on, it’s time to get a brake inspection. Auto repair shops and some dealerships, depending on your vehicle’s warranty, can perform these inspections for you.
2. Vibration While Driving
Another sign of brake problems is vibration in the steering wheel while driving. If your steering wheel vibrates while you drive, an uneven rotor may be the cause. You’ll want to take your vehicle in to a mechanic to have the brake system checked.
What Is a Brake Rotor?
A brake rotor is a disc inside of your vehicle’s wheels. When you press the brake pedal, the brake pads compress on either side of the rotor to slow the wheels and eventually stop them. The car’s brakes work best when the rotors are smooth and even all the way around. Over time, the rotor wears down, and rust may develop. In these cases, the auto technician typically smooths the rotor’s face to fix the irregular areas.
3. Grinding or Squealing Noises While Driving or Braking
Generally speaking, if your car makes strange noises while you’re driving it, you should get it checked out by a trained professional. However, there are a couple of noises that tend to indicate a problem with your brakes.
Squealing Noises While Driving
If you hear a high-pitched squealing sound while driving that goes away when you press on the brake, your brake pads may need replacing. The squealing noise comes from the brake pad wear indicators making contact with the rotor.
Grinding Noises While Braking
A grinding noise while braking can indicate multiple different issues. For example, a rock may be stuck in the caliper unit, or the brake pads may have worn all the way through. However, multiple issues could cause a grinding noise while braking, so you should be sure to take your car into a local auto repair shop as soon as possible.
4. Leaking Fluid
If you have issues with your brakes and your vehicle leaks fluid, you need a service technician to look for the source of the leak, whether it’s in the master cylinder or somewhere else within the brake system. If your vehicle leaks brake fluid, there may not be sufficient power to force the brake pads to wear down on the motor.
5. Soft Brake Pedal
Pay attention to the resistance of your brake pedal. If it feels spongey or “softer” than usual, you need to take your vehicle for service as soon as possible. Multiple different issues could cause this problem. Since brakes are essential for your safety, you must have them inspected promptly.
6. Burning Smell While Driving
Any time you smell something strange while driving, you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. A chemical smell after hard braking may mean that your clutch or brakes have overheated. Overheated brakes can cause brake failure, so make sure to have the brake system inspected as soon as possible.
7. Car Pulls to One Side While Braking
If your vehicle pulls to one side when you brake, you may have an issue with a brake hose or a caliper. If one of the calipers applies more pressure to one side during braking than the other side, the car will stop unevenly.
Common Causes of Brake Failure
Brake failure causes hundreds of car accidents every year. The number one cause of brake failure, by far, is owner neglect. Ignoring routine maintenance schedules can have disastrous effects in the long run. Other causes of brake failure include:
- Overheated brake pads. Brake pads overheat due to excessive use. Over time, the brake pads become brittle and need replacing.
- Damaged rotor disks. A damaged rotor disk decreases the life of the brake pads and makes stopping your car much more difficult than usual.
- Leaking hydraulic fluid. If the brake fluid is contaminated at all, your brakes may fail. Have a brake inspection completed on your vehicle to ensure that a leaking hydraulic line hasn’t infiltrated the brake system.
- Driving through the mud. Driving through the mud or water may reduce the amount of friction between the brake pads and the rotor disks, making braking difficult.
- Loss of hydraulic brake fluid pressure. Without proper hydraulic brake fluid pressure, it’s nearly impossible to stop the car quickly.
- Overloading the vehicle. Overloading your car can impair your ability to stop quickly. Make sure to load your vehicle correctly.
How Can Ron’s Auto & RV Help With Brake Repair?
Ron’s Auto & RV is a family-owned full-service auto repair shop. Since 1976, the highly-trained and qualified team at Ron’s Auto & RV has provided Vancouver, WA, and the surrounding areas with quality auto repair and maintenance services. If you notice any of the above indicators of brake problems, make sure to call us right away to schedule a brake inspection. We can answer any questions you have about your brakes and our recommendations. Get started now!