Brakes are the most critical safety system in any car.
They may not be the most good looking or appealing part in your vehicle but they are the most crucial one without any doubt. The importance is due to two reasons. One is the number of times you use your brakes in a single drive cannot be counted. But certainly it is applied repeatedly over thousands of miles.
The second factor is the role they are there for. If any other major part is facing problem and you tend to ignore it, you may land up paying high repair bills. But this is not as easy with the brakes. The cost can be too high as it may lead to fatal accidents. Hence, It is very dangerous to wait for too long to change your brake pads.
We all know that repeatedly applying brakes while driving is in evitable and the brake pads gradually wear down due to heavy usage, reducing their ability to stop the car. It initially may go unnoticed until you do not drive with very high speed and then all of a sudden a need arise to apply brakes immediately.
But it is your responsibility to figure out what is happening inside your brake pads much before your car starts giving you any kind of signals to ensure your safety. Luckily, it is not difficult to determine when your vehicle is ready for some brake work, provided you are a keen observer.
Of course, there are some obvious signs that your brakes need servicing, such as the brake light appearing on your car’s dashboard or the feeling that your vehicle is taking longer to stop than it should. Paying attention to the warning signs that indicate a need for service can mean the difference between life and death on the road.
Many cars have built-in wear sensors that scrape against a brake disc when the linings needed replacing. The driver will hear an annoying screeching sound when they apply the brakes. But if it is not there then also you can figure out by listening to your car seriously. Here are a few indications that tell you to get your brakes changed immediately:
Strange sounds are clear signals for brake problems: One of the warning signs that your brakes need servicing can come from a small indicator in your braking system that emits a high-pitched squeal when your pads need replacing. And this sound is loud enough to be heard even when the windows are up. In addition to the squeal from the sensor, you’ll also want to listen for a harsh grinding sound. This means that you’ve gone completely through your brake pads and now, when you apply the brakes, the metal of the calipers is grinding against the metal of your rotors.
Vibrations in the brake pedal: Generally, a vibrating brake pedal indicates warped rotors. Their uneven surfaces will thrum against the brake pads, and you will feel the feedback through the brake pedal. Rotors usually only warp when they’re under extreme stress for an extended period. The friction-generated heat caused by driving down steep mountainsides or by stopping frequently while towing something heavy, for example, can cause the metal of the rotors to change shape.
If you haven’t stressed your brakes recently, but you still feel vibration in the pedal, you may have misaligned wheels. In either case, it’s best to see a mechanic for diagnosis.
Temperamental pedal: A mushy pedal, one that goes practically to the floor before engaging the brakes, could indicate worn pads or a problem with the hydraulic system, such as air in the line, an air leak or a brake fluid leak. To check for a fluid leak, put an old white sheet or piece of light cardboard under the car overnight. In the morning, examine any fluid that collects. Brake fluid will be practically clear and the consistency of cooking oil.
The opposite of a mushy pedal is one that causes the brakes to grab immediately at the slightest touch. This could indicate an unevenly worn rotor, dirty brake fluid or contamination of the fluid by moisture.
Brake pads becoming thinner: Over time, as you can imagine, the pads will begin to wear thin, which means they will become less effective at slowing and stopping your car. Checking the thickness of your brake pads is a straightforward procedure. All you need to do is look between the spokes of your wheel to spot the shiny metal rotor inside. When you find it, look around the outer edge where you can see the metal caliper. Between the caliper and rotor, you will see the pad. You will have to estimate, but generally, your pads should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. If they are any thinner than that, it is a good idea to get them changed.
Pulling: Although this doesn’t necessarily indicates the problem in brakes but it sometimes does. The cause of this pulling might be a stuck caliper. Because such a scenario would cause friction on one wheel and not the others, your car can pull to the side where the caliper is stuck. Two other brake-related scenarios that could cause a car to pull would be a collapsed brake hose that would cause your calipers to move unevenly when applying the brakes, or uneven brake pads, which would also apply different amounts of pressure to different wheels.
Worn out brakes usually makes distinctive sounds, but always look for the signs mentioned above as well because sometimes you may not pay attention to the sound due to many other sounds in your car.
Unlike mechanical issues that can arise out of nowhere, your brake pads will usually bother you only when there time is up. But once it is over, you should not wait for too long as it can be much more dangerous than what you can afford.