Anyone who drives a car knows that a car requires maintenance. In most cases, it is important to get that maintenance before a small problem turns into a bigger problem. Your car’s braking system needs regular upkeep if you want to stay as safe on the road as possible.
Additionally, braking systems are much more complex than just brake pads and shoes. That means that a number of things can go wrong - from problems with the brake lines and hoses, to bent drums and rotors - that require your immediate attention if you want to stop your brake problem from snowballing.
In order to stay ahead of your brakes, you need to pay close attention to what you car is telling you. How do you know when your braking system might need some TLC? Watch out for these three signs that your brake need to be checked:
There is perhaps no more obvious sign that your brakes need attention than that all-too familiar, tell-tale squeal. If you listen closely, you can even identify which brake(s) need replacing. So, just what is it that causes this hard to ignore sound? Generally speaking, your braking system works through friction between your brake pads and rotors. This friction naturally wears the brake pads down over time. Most brake pads have a built-in indicator to alert you of when they need to be replaced - usually a steel clip - that makes a high-pitched sound when it comes into contact with the rotor.
You may feel a vibration when you press on your brake pedal. This most likely means that your rotors are warped. Rotors may become warped if you go too long without replacing your brake pads, or even just from the pressure of driving down steep terrain. Either way, if your rotors are sending those vibrations your way, you need to have them checked out (and most likely replaced).
A problematic pedal
Pedal problems can go either way - either too “mushy” or too “sensitive” - and each problem is indicative of different types of brake issues. For example, if your pedal feels mushy when you push on it, then there is likely a problem in the brake lines or hydraulic system; if your pedal is hypersensitive, the problem may be a worn rotor or dirty brake fluid.