Have you ever heard a high-pitched screeching sound when you apply your brakes? That’s the small metal shim, called an indicator, which gives you an audible warning when you need to replace your brake pads. Pay attention to this sound, which is sometimes loud enough to be heard even while your vehicle’s windows might be up, but not necessarily loud enough to be heard over the radio or air conditioner. If you hear it regularly, your brakes need to be checked at the earliest or get an appointment with a mechanic.
One exception is if your car has been sitting after being exposed to water, like rain or a car wash. The moisture can cause a thin layer of rust to develop on the brake rotors, which is normal. When you first apply the brakes, the pads pressing on the rust-covered rotors may cause a squeal for a few stops until the rust has worn off. Eventually, the sound should disappear.
We’ve listed some critical warning signs you need new brakes. So if you experience any of these, your brakes need to be checked by a professional at the earliest.
1. Reduced responsiveness
Common brake problems are when they are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal ‘sinks’ towards the floor. This could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak (in the brake hose) or a brake fluid leak. One tell-tale sign of a brake fluid leak is the presence of a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked. Brake fluid looks similar to fresh motor oil, but with a less ‘slimy’ texture.
If your vehicle ‘pulls’ to one side while braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or foreign matter in the brake fluid. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.
3. Grinding or growling
This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely, most likely beyond replacement. The grinding or growling noise is caused by the two metal pieces (disk and caliper) rubbing together. This can ‘score’ or scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, don’t be surprised if the mechanic tells you that the rotors need to be ‘turned’ or even replaced.
A vibration or pulsating is often a symptom of warped rotors. It can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment. The vibration can feel similar to the brake pedal’s feedback during a panic stop in a car equipped with anti-lock brakes. It’s a sign of warped rotors if the vibration occurs while braking when the anti-lock brakes are not engaged. Warped rotors are caused by severe braking for long periods, such as driving down a steep mountain or when towing. Tremendous amounts of friction are created under these conditions, heating the rotors and causing them to warp. The vibration is felt because the brake pads are not able to grab the surface evenly.
Head on over to the Car Factory, where our certified mechanics will make sure everything in your car is in perfect working order before you head out! Please book an appointment today by calling us at 786-406-6234 or visit our website.
Keeping your brakes calibrated and in good working order can prevent costly repairs down the line and, more importantly, help you avoid an accident, so your brakes need to be checked is important.
Recommended Read: Top 5 Most Common Car Problems and Their Signs