Brakes – the key to your safety
From approaching a stop sign to reacting when another car suddenly drifts into your lane, you rely on your brakes each time you get behind the wheel of your car. One of the most important safety systems in your vehicle, your brakes need to be in top working order at all times - your safety and the safety of your passengers is at stake.
As you drive, take time to be aware of your brakes and how they are operating. If you notice any of the warning signs described below, take your car immediately to your trusted mechanic for an examination.
Warning signs of brake issues
Pulsating or vibrating brake pedal
If your brake pedal is pulsating or vibrating when you press down on it, this is often a good indication that new brakes are needed. Pulsating brakes are typically caused by worn brake pads and rotors. Both the rotors and brake pads need to be inspected and are likely candidates for replacement.
Rattling or clicking sounds
When the brakes make a rattling or clicking noise, this is an indication that your brake pads need replacing. The rattling and clicking is caused by the vibration of loose components which damages the brake pad. During the inspection, your mechanic will not only focus on the brake pads but they will also look at the condition of the brake hardware.
Car pulls to one side
If your car pulls to one side after applying the brakes, this is an indication that your brakes are not being applied evenly. You could have a lack of braking (where the pad never makes contact with rotor) at one or more wheels or your brakes could be binding (the brake pad is not retracting from the rotor surface) at one or more wheels. Your mechanic will be able to definitive diagnosis.
Grinding or growling sounds
A grinding or growling sound when you press down on the brake pedal typically means that the brake pads have worn through and now are grinding into the rotors. Grinding or growling brakes indicate metal on metal contact – meaning you have no braking material left. Don’t wait to take your vehicle to your mechanic - the longer you drive your car in that condition, the more dangerous it is for you and your passengers.
If you hear a high-pitched squeal during braking, this is a good indication you brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. This high-pitched squeal is caused by a small metal tab which acts as an indicator to alert you that the brake pads need servicing.
Deep grooves in rotor
Brake pads that are severely worn down often leave deep, circular grooves in the rotor. If such grooves are visible, brake pads and hardware must be replaced, and rotor service or replacement will also be needed. Be sure to have a mechanic examine both the brake pads and rotors to ensure a proper diagnosis.
Thin brake pads
Conducting a visual inspection of your brakes is another good way to determine how they are wearing. If you see less than a 1/4" of pad, then the brake pads are thin and need replacing.
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