Whether you know nothing about cars or are a complete car junkie, it's always important to stay alert and aware of your vehicle. It's just as important as paying attention while driving. From general knowledge, knowing how the car functions overall, to more specific instances, like knowing when to replace your exhaust system, any automobile know-how can save you from dangerous accidents and situations.
Some of the most valuable information you can hope to learn is how to spot when your car is malfunctioning. One of the most common problems a car faces is with its braking system. So if you aren't as proficient in spotting the markers your car puts out when its brakes aren't up to snuff, then this list is for you. Here are the ten most common signs it is time you need new brakes.
Any noise that is noticeably loud could qualify as signs it is time you need new brakes, but this one may be the most common. When you start hearing a grinding sound, it usually means your brake pads have worn down and are no longer effective. That loud sound you hear is the brake rotors and the caliper rubbing against each other. Needless to say, that isn't a good sign. This can cause serious damage to more than just your brake pads, which could come to cost a hefty fortune if you do not address it quickly enough.
Does it seem like a gust of wind can push your brake pedal down? Well, that's certainly not ideal. This could be caused by a number of issues, including a brake fluid leak, air leak, or some other problem that needs to be inspected. If you want to tell if it is a leak, there will be puddles under your car every time it is one spot for long. Whatever the root of the problem is, if your pedal does not possess any resistance, you will most likely need to get new brakes.
Pulls to One Side
One of the scarier signs it is time you need new brakes is when your car pulls to one side. It's almost as if the car has a mind of its own. It wants to go left when you right, go right when you go left. Every time you drive it is a struggle to go where you want. Who is really in control, you or your car?
Sounds like a future Black Mirror episode doesn't it? I think it's a semi-decent pitch. If your vehicle is pulling and pushing you around, it is almost certainly a brakes issue. It could be a fluid problem, something with the brake lines, or some other issue in your braking system. So if you ever feel like your most recent drive could fit in a dystopian future full of dangerous tech, you should probably head to the mechanic.
This is the opposite of, you guessed it, the soft pedal. Both are signs it is time you need new brakes despite being at opposite ends of the spectrum. The rigid pedal is exactly what it sounds like. No matter how much force you put through your foot, the pedal barely budges. This could either be a brake fluid problem or a rotor problem. Leave it up to the mechanic to figure out which one.
Your pedal isn't rigid or soft, so it's fine, right? Not necessarily. Another common problem is vibration. Thankfully, when a pedal has a vibration issue, it is easy to notice. It is one of the more unnatural feelings you can have while driving. It's similar to driving in icy conditions and you start to skid and slide with no control. The pedal vibrates, the brakes make a weird grinding noise, and you feel like you're on an Olympic curling team with how far you slide. That was my experience anyway, in a crowded intersection no less.
So if this happens to you in the non-frozen months of the year, you will need to get it fixed. This is likely a rotor issue and needs to be properly checked by someone qualified to handle it.
Brake Light Warning
Duh, I know. This is obviously one of the signs it is time you need new brakes, but I'm focusing on the human element to this problem. The brake light warning light has appeared on your dashboard. It is literally one of the warning signs in your car, so why doesn't everyone take it seriously?
My brother once went several months with his check engine light on. I hounded him every day to get it checked out at a repair shop, but he insisted it was just his car's way of life. Eventually, my mom yelled at him enough to get him to fix it, luckily before an accident proved his stupidity beyond doubt. Bottom line, just take the warning signs your car displays seriously. If there's a serious problem with your braking system, your car won't last too long on the open road.
This one could apply to most things in life. If something smells bad, strange, or odd, it's best to get it checked out. These smells could range from anywhere on the bad smell spectrum, but if it is pungent enough for you to notice it in or around your car, it needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. The causes are numerous but at least it's easy to realize when something is wrong.
We come to another noise on my list of the top 10 signs it is time you need new brakes. The squealing noise is much different from the grinding noise I mentioned earlier, you will know it when you hear it. This could be from a rusted rotor or some other ailment affecting your rotor. As mentioned previously, all noises could be on this list so if you hear something, get it checked.
Those pesky turns. They always seem to reveal a car's true health. In this case, if your vehicle begins to wobble back and forth whenever you round a corner, you can bet its brakes don't have much left without help. This is potentially from your brake pads being too low and grinding into the rotors. What is for sure is if you hold your breath on turns, you need to stop playing with fire and get your brakes looked at.
As they work in tandem with the brakes, always look into how long your tires should last before you get a new set. Tires suffer the same wear and tear that your brakes endure, they are just as important to keep an eye on.
Those are the ten signs it is time you need new brakes. If you're lucky, you won't have to put any of this knowledge to use. However, even if you're not so lucky, you will now know what to look for if something is amiss! Just be sure to not be the second family from Tommy Boy driving along with subpar break pads.