There are several signs that let you know that it’s time to bring your car into a repair shop for brakes. The most obvious on is a high pitched squeal upon braking. Brake pads come with a little piece of metal attached called an indicator. When the brake pad has worn down to a certain point, the indicator metal begins to touch the rotor, producing a cringe-worthy squeal. Depending on how hard you drive, this means you need to have your brakes serviced within the month. Occasionally low cost brake pads don’t come with an indicator, or the indicator can rust and fall off. If your car is taking longer to stop than it used to, or it feels like you can depress the pedal down further than normal, get your car in for service right away.
Other trouble signs are:
pulling to one side while braking
a pedal that feels harder or softer than usual to depress
unusually sensitive brakes
illumination of a brake warning light
Rotors can typically last through 2-3 sets of brake pads, but if your steering wheel wiggles and vibrates while stopping, your rotors are probably past due for replacement. These are good indicators that your brakes need service, but better is to have your brake system periodically checked by a professional to find issues before they start to affect your braking ability.
Your car is equipped with dashboard warning lights for your brake system. The number of these vehicle indicators vary. Some cars have one warning light for any brake issue, others have two or three separate lights. Check your owner’s manual to familiarize yourself with the indicators for your vehicle.
If the brake system warning light is your vehicle’s only brake indicator, it can mean the parking brake is engaged, there is a problem with your anti-lock brake system, you have very worn brake pads or shoes, or you are low or leaking brake fluid. You may also have separate indicators for the parking brake and ABS systems.
If you determine that the indicator is for possible low or leaking brake fluid, you should have your vehicle in for service before driving it again.
If you have an ABS light that is illuminated, there is a problem with your anti-lock braking system. Your brakes will operate as if you didn’t have anti-lock brakes, and assuming it is not icy you can safely drive it to a repair shop.
We visually monitor the exterior portion of your brakes at every service as part of our courtesy inspection, but recommend that you have a full professional brake inspection performed on your vehicle annually. This involves testing and through inspection of your brake pads and shoes, hydraulic fluid, rotors and drums, calipers, wheel cylinders, hoses and lines, master cylinder, and ABS system. Staying on top of brake maintenance is important for ensuring your safety, protecting the value of your car, and saving you from expensive repairs down the road.
If you have any questions or concerns about your brakes or would like to schedule an inspection give us a call today.