Among all the components that help your vehicle run smoothly, you may take the brakes for granted. Rather than waiting until your vehicle pulls to one side, makes strange noises or vibrates when you come to a stop, make sure the brakes are in good condition.
How Do Vehicle Brakes Work?
Brakes are a crucial component of your car’s operation. Located by your car’s two front wheels, they depend on the rotors or the discs located behind each wheel. A caliper – essentially a clamp – is located above and whenever you press down on your pedals, this device closes to squeeze the rotors. In the process, the wheels start to slow until your car comes to a full stop.
The calipers also touch your brake pads and over time, the friction wears them down until they’re too thin. When this happens, your brakes don’t seem to be as effective or have to work harder. If you ignore the warning signs, your car’s brake system will experience more wear and require more repairs later on.
Squeaking, Grinding or Rubbing
None of these vehicle sounds are normal; rather, they often indicate that your brake pads have worn down beyond acceptable levels. Once the pad is worn down completely, you’ll hear a metal sound – the disc and caliper rubbing together. In the process, your rotors get scratched up, creating an uneven surface. When this happens, expect to have both your rotors and brake pads replaced.
You’ll also feel when something is not quite right, such as a vibrating pedal or steering wheel. At this point, your pads have worn down and your rotors are scraped to the point of warping. On the other hand, your vehicle could be misaligned.
Something has become loose and is now moving around. More often than not, it’s the clip or pin designed to hold the pad in place. This issue may point to a problem with your hardware, causing your brake system’s parts to loosen.
You’re Pressing Harder
Do you find yourself having to use more force to stop your car? Whether you’re adding more pressure or your foot is pushing down further, your brake pads have started to wear down – but they’re not completely gone. Should you ignore this sign, you’ll eventually feel like you’re driving with no brakes – making stopping harder and your accident risk greater.
Along with this factor, the responsiveness of your brakes may decrease at the same time. This indicates that your brake system may have an air or fluid leak. To check, look under your car after it has been parked and if you see a fluid that looks like motor oil without the viscosity or shininess pooling below, your system could be experiencing this issue.
Although pulling frequently indicates an alignment issue, it’s suspect when it happens when you brake. Specifically, your pads may have uneven wear, your system may need an adjustment or your brake fluid may have foreign debris in it. Long term, the pulling places extra stress on your car’s steering rack, resulting in worn-out ball joints, steering knuckles and bearings.
Has the brake warning light on your dashboard come on? It could be time for a mechanic to inspect your car’s brake system. To check, look through the car’s wheel spokes at the pads. Ideally, the pad touching the rotor should be at least one-quarter inch thick. If it looks worn down further, your car’s pads need to be replaced.
This smell is your car’s last signal that something is wrong with your brake system. At this point, your car is unsafe to drive and you’ll need to call for roadside assistance.
Once you notice these signs, it may be time for a diagnostic appointment with DaSilva’s Auto Body. After a vehicle inspection, we may recommend a simple brake fluid replacement or greater repairs. To schedule a time, give our Naugatuck location a call today.