When driving along the highway on a beautiful day with the windows down and the radio level turned up, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a big piece of steel and glass flying through space at more than 60 miles per hour (97-plus kilometers per hour). At that pace, if you suddenly needed to stop, it would take your vehicle roughly the length of a football field (100 yards or 91 meters) to come to a stop, and that’s assuming you’ve properly maintained one of the most important safety devices in your car: the brakes.
Brakes may not be the most attractive component of a vehicle, but they are among the most important. Observing the warning indications that suggest a need for service.
5: Worn Pads
First, let’s discuss the operation of your brakes.
Disc brakes are utilized by the majority of vehicles. They operate similarly to the brakes of a bicycle with ten gears. A hydraulic system filled with braking fluid activates a set of cushioned clamps known as calipers, causing them to compress on a disc known as the rotor. The friction between the brake pads and rotor eventually brings the vehicle to a complete halt.
As you may guess, the brake pads will wear down with time, rendering them less efficient in slowing and stopping your vehicle.
Checking the thickness of your brake pads — those that squeeze down on the calipers — is a simple process, thankfully. Just examine the space between the spokes of your wheel to locate the metallic rotor. After you discover it, examine the exterior edge, where the metal caliper will be visible. The pad is positioned between the caliper and rotor. You will need to estimate, but your pads should be at least one-fourth of an inch thick. It would be prudent to replace them if they become any thinner.
If your vehicle’s wheel is not constructed so that you can see through the spokes, you will need to remove the tire in order to inspect the rotor and brake pads. In either scenario, it’s a good idea to inspect the rotor itself while you’re observing it. It ought to be relatively easy. If you notice any deep grooves or pits, it may be time to replace the item as well.
4: Strange Sounds
Your mother has always cautioned you about blaring music in the automobile. Also, it is not healthy for your brakes.
One of the indicators that your brakes require maintenance is a little indicator in your braking system that generates a high-pitched screech when your brake pads require replacement. Even while this sound is loud enough to be heard with the windows up, it may be difficult to hear with Lady Gaga blaring from the car system.
In addition to the sensor’s shriek, you should also listen for a hard grinding noise. This indicates that your brake pads are entirely worn out, and when you use the brakes, the metal calipers are now grinding against the metal rotors. Not only is this an ineffectual technique to stop your vehicle, but there’s a good chance you’ll also damage your rotors, transforming a relatively simple and affordable pad replacement into a more expensive rotor resurfacing or replacement process.
Have you ever felt that your car has a mind of its own? As if it desired to turn right or left while driving or braking?
If so, there may be an issue with the brake system. This pulling may be caused by a jammed caliper. Because such a situation would generate friction on only one wheel and not the others, your vehicle may pull to the side where the trapped caliper is.
A ruptured brake hose, which would allow your calipers to move unevenly when applying the brakes, and uneven brake pads, which would likewise apply various amounts of pressure to different wheels, would also cause a vehicle to pull.
But, pulling may not always imply a brake problem. Inadequately inflated or old tires, a misaligned car, or a suspension problem could possibly be at blame. If your vehicle begins to pull, you should take it to the local auto repair shop for a thorough examination.
If you’ve ever had to perform an emergency stop in a vehicle equipped with antilock brakes, you’re familiar with the rapid brake-pedal pulsing caused by the system’s quick grabs on the rotor. But, if your brake pedal pulses in this manner under normal braking conditions, there may be an issue.
A vibrating brake pedal typically implies warped rotors. These irregular surfaces will grate against the brake pads, and you will feel the feedback through the brake pedal.
Typically, rotors only distort when subjected to significant stress for an extended period of time. The frictional heat generated by driving down steep mountain slopes or often stopping while towing a big load, for example, might cause the metal of the rotors to deform.
If you haven’t used your brakes recently but you still feel vibration in the pedal, your wheels may be out of alignment. In either instance, it is advisable to have the problem diagnosed by a mechanic.
1: Temperamental Pedal
In addition to a thudding sound, your brake pedal may also indicate that your vehicle’s braking system requires inspection.
A mushy brake pedal that almost touches the floor before engaging the brakes may suggest old pads or a problem with the hydraulic system, such as air in the lines, an air leak, or a brake fluid leak. To check for fluid leaks, place an old white sheet or thin piece of cardboard under the vehicle overnight. Examine any fluid accumulations in the morning. The brake fluid will be nearly transparent and have the consistency of cooking oil.
In contrast to a mushy pedal, one that causes the brakes to grasp with the slightest contact is one that causes the brakes to grab quickly. This could suggest an unevenly worn rotor, contaminated brake fluid, or moisture contamination. You can remedy this issue with a relatively affordable fluid change that you can perform yourself or have your mechanic perform.
Lastly, if stopping the vehicle resembles Fred Flintstone pushing his feet through the bottom of the vehicle, you may have a blockage in the brake lines or an issue with the vacuum system. Both conditions would render the brake pedal extremely difficult to function and necessitate prompt maintenance.
Check out the next page for an abundance of further brake-related information.