Giving you control over your vehicle when you need it most, when you take care of your car brakes, they'll take care of you.
Neglecting to book a brake replacement when needed could put you in unnecessary danger on the road, which is why it is so important that you know when it is time to replace your car brakes.
In this article, we share some of the most common warning signs to look out for, which can help you stay one step ahead of brake failure.
Is it time you booked a brake replacement? Read on and find out.
A Grinding Sound
If you notice a grinding sound when braking, you may need to book a brake pad or brake disc replacement. As brake pads feature a metal wear indicator, this sound could indicate that the pads have worn away enough for the brake disc to come into contact with this part. You will likely need to book a brake disc replacement as well as a brake pad replacement.
The Car Is Pulling to The Side
If you notice that your car pulls to the left or right when braking, then this could prove dangerous in an emergency. This pulling can be caused by uneven brake wear, with one side being more worn than the other.
A sticking or seized brake caliper could also be to blame. A brake caliper squeezes two pads against a rotor, thereby creating friction which reduces the speed of the car. When a caliper rusts or is damaged in an accident, this can place uneven pressure on the brake pads.
You may notice that your vehicle takes longer to get going, or hear a grinding noise when driving. A professional mechanic will likely recommend that you have the brake caliper replaced, rather than cleaned.
It is important that you have your vehicle looked at if it is pulling to the side, as your wheels may also be out of alignment.
The Brake Pedal Reaches The Floor
If your brake pedal goes all the way to the floor, then this could indicate that a brake fluid leak is present. Without brake fluid, your brakes won’t work - you can look for a colourless liquid underneath your car with the consistency of vegetable oil to find out if you have a leak. You can also check the brake fluid levels under your bonnet, referring to your owner’s manual as you do so. If there are no visible signs of a brake fluid leak, then there could be an internal problem which needs to be addressed by a garage.
A brake fluid leak should not be ignored, as this can increase your chances of having an accident on the road. Do not drive the vehicle until a professional mechanic has resolved the issue.
Brake fluid can thin over time, as the more often the brakes are used, the hotter the brake fluid will become. If your brake pedal feels soft, then it may be worth reassessing your driving style. Where possible, try not to ride the brakes - the hotter and thinner the brake fluid, the more force you will need to operate the brakes.
Alternatively, you could have a bad brake master cylinder. This is where the brake fluid is compressed, which in turns causes the brakes to be applied to the wheels. A faulty master cylinder will result in a loss of braking power, and you won’t feel the same level of resistance you would usually expect when you press the brake pedal. A leaking or faulty master cylinder will need to be replaced by a skilled mechanic.
The Steering Wheel Is Vibrating
A vibration felt through the steering wheel or brake pedal when you attempt to slow down can indicate that your brake discs are warped. If your steering wheel vibrates when driving at low speeds, then there could be a problem with the brakes, wheels, tyres or suspension.
A steering wheel that shakes when you brake can also be the result of worn, dirty, rusted or loose brake pads. If the brake pads have become contaminated by oil, grease, mud or brake fluid, the brake pads can struggle to clamp down on the rotor as a result.
A shaking steering wheel can be a big distraction whilst driving, so it is important that you have the issue resolved by a garage at your earliest convenience.
A Squeaking Sound
A squeaking sound produced by the brakes can be the result of something as simple as setting off in cold weather, being parked in the rain or the presence of rust in the brake system - you may hear the sound early in the morning as your brakes attempt to clean the rust on the brake discs away. If you are at all concerned about the health of your brakes, however, don’t hesitate to book a repair with a local garage and find out exactly what has been causing the problem.
Squeaking brakes could indicate that there is a more serious fault which needs to be addressed. As previously discussed, worn brake pads will need to be replaced, and you should do so as soon as possible. If the squeaking noise sounds especially loud, then this could mean that your brake pads have worn out. Certain brakes are designed to produce this noise suddenly, to alert you that it is time to replace your brake pads.
Be sure to book a brake pad replacement near you if you notice such a noise.
A Sticking Handbrake
A sticking handbrake could be the result of cold temperatures, your driving style, rust and corrosion, or a lack of use. You may feel resistance when you take the handbrake off and attempt to pull away, in which case you should have your vehicle checked by a mechanic. Continuing to drive with a sticking handbrake can cause the brakes to heat up, resulting in premature wear and damage to the brakes.
With regular servicing and gentle use of the handbrake, you can reduce the likelihood of your handbrake sticking.
An Illuminated Warning Light
If you notice that the brake warning light is lit up on your car’s dashboard, then you should have your vehicle looked at immediately. There could be a fault with the brake hydraulic system which needs to be addressed.
An illuminated brake warning light can also indicate that your brake pads have worn out, your brake fluid is leaking, or that the vehicle is experiencing sensor failure. If this warning light stays on even after fully releasing the parking brake - or if the brake pedal feels soft - then it is especially important that you have the vehicle looked at by a mechanic. Stop driving and call for assistance if you notice the light whilst on the road.
Regardless of the brake issue in question, you should not drive your car until the brakes have been checked and replaced. If you think your brakes are worn out, be sure to have them looked at and replaced by a professional garage near you as soon as possible.
We hope that you have found this article interesting and informative. If you would like to learn more about how car brakes work, why not read our article on anti-lock braking systems?