Checking your brakes are safe
The brakes are vital in stopping a car and keeping it under the control of the driver. Braking systems gradually wear out over use because they rely on friction to bring a vehicle to a halt. You can therefore expect to need to change the front pads at some point due to wear, however rear pads can also need changing because of corrosion.
But not only can brakes become ineffective due to general wear and tear, but because of other mechanical faults. In either case, when brakes are no longer working properly they need to be serviced as soon as possible to avoid difficulties when driving, and a potential accident.
There are numerous ways a vehicle’s brakes can go wrong, but there are also telling signs in the way the car feels and behaves which can indicate this to the driver.
If you’re at all unsure as to whether the brakes in your car are in suitable condition, here are several things you can look out for to identify various faults.
Feel of the pedal
From the moment you start the car, a simple way to check the brakes are ok is to apply pressure to the pedal itself before moving. The brake pedal should feel firm and neither spongy or slack.
If the pedal doesn’t feel firm then the necessary brake fluid may be leaking. To check if this is the case then you can easily do so by stepping out of your vehicle and inspecting underneath it. Look out for any fluid by the wheels of your car as this could represent a leak of the brake fluids which will need to be addressed right away.
Uneven heating and cooling of the brake discs can possibly cause them to distort in shape and therefore reduce their effectiveness.
This problem can be detected by the driver if the brake pedal itself seems to be vibrating whilst the car is being driven. In this scenario the brakes are worth getting inspected.
The heat developed from driving down steep roads or by stopping frequently while towing something heavy, can cause the rotors of the brakes to change shape in the first place.
Pulling when braking
Have you noticed that the car seems to veer left or right when braking or even when on the move?If is the case then this could very well signal a problem with your car’s brakes. A possible scenario is that the brake calliper, designed to grab and stop the wheel moving when braking, is stuck or faulty.
In this case this can easily result in an uneven distribution of pressure when applying the brakes across all four wheels. It’s highly recommended that you take the car to a service garage to have its brakes checked.
Keep in mind though that pulling of the car can be caused by other issues besides the brakes. For example the problem could be related to a worn or under-inflated tyre.
If you’ve noticed a high-pitched squealing sound whenever you are using your car’s brakes, this could be a warning that something is wrong. Some cars have a small indicator in your braking system which emits a high-pitched sound whenever your brake pads need replacing.
Be wary of any grinding sounds coming out of your car whenever you brake also. A harsh noise like this could very well mean that the brake pads in your car have completely worn out and your brake callipers are now grinding against the metal rotors within the car’s wheel.
This is not only a poor way to stop your car; it can also create serious damage to your vehicle’s rotors, turning a relatively straightforward fix into an expensive repair job.