Check Your Brakes
It’s a serious mistake to ignore your check brakes light. When that little red light comes on, it means you’ve got a problem that needs addressing immediately. Not every brake problem will set off the check brakes light, though. Some brake problems will go undetected by the onboard sensors for a while, but you’ll still notice warning signs before the problems get out of hand.
We recently asked the folks at SE Performance about brake problems people living in Cache Valley have reported. Here are five common ones.
Brakes Make Noise
Your brakes should never make any noise. If you hear squeaking, squealing, grinding, or any other kind of noise, something is wrong. This is most likely a sign that your brake pads need replacing. Cars have a warning mechanism built into the brake pads that will cause it to start making noise when the brake pads start to wear out. If you don’t get this problem corrected before they completely wear out, then they might damage other parts of your car, so don’t hesitate to fix it.
Do you notice a resistance while braking? That’s good. There should be resistance. That’s your brake pads in action. As the brakes wear out, however, you’ll start to notice less and less resistance. You’ll push the pedal farther and farther to get the same results, making you take longer to stop. If you start to notice this “soft pedal” problem, call a mechanic right away. You can only push the pedal so far and you don’t want to reach a point where you find yourself unable to brake at all.
Car Pulls to the Side When Braking
A car that pulls to one side is a serious risk. If you find yourself pulling to one side while braking, there are a number of possible causes. You could have uneven wear on your brake pads, which will cause one tire to brake slower. A caliper could be frozen. This is often caused by dust, water, or corrosion damaging the piston connected to it. It might also mean impurities in the brake fluid, meaning it’s time for a brake flush. Whatever the cause, you want to take care of it immediately. You don’t want to have to fight swerving out of your lane every time you come to a stop.
Vibrations When Braking
Do your brakes, steering wheel, or even whole car vibrate when you try to slow down? If so, that’s probably a sign of a warped rotor. The rotors help your brake pads generate the friction they need to slow you down but friction generates heat. Over time, the consistent heating and cooling warps the rotors out of shape. Once they go out of shape, there’s less surface area touching the brakes, and this lessens the performance.
Your brakes should not make any noise. More importantly, they should also not make any smell. If you notice any noxious odors, especially a pungent burning scent, you must stop driving immediately. There are any number of problems that could cause the smell, and all of them are super dangerous. We cannot stress this one enough. DO NOT drive if your brakes are producing a bad smell. Call a mechanic immediately to schedule an appointment. If possible, it might be wise tow your vehicle into the mechanic’s shop rather than drive.
You have to get from point A to point B, that’s a given, but it’s also important to be able to stop when you get there. Your brake system should not ever be neglected if you care about your safety. If you notice any of these brake problems, they are warning signs of bigger problems to come. If you ignore them, then at the very least expect to have more expensive repairs down the road. They could also put you in danger, so don’t wait. Check with your local mechanic as soon as you can.