It's simple to overlook the fact that you're in a large chunk of steel and glass racing through space at speeds of more than 60 mph when you're cruising down the interstate on a beautiful day with your windows down and your radio level up. If you suddenly needed to stop while traveling at that speed, it might take your automobile about a football field to stop, and that's just if you've kept your brakes, one of your car's most important safety features, in good working order. While not the most attractive component of an automobile, brakes are unquestionably one of the most important. On the road, heeding the warning signals that point to a need for maintenance might mean the difference between life and death.
Naturally, there are certain plainly visible indicators that your brakes require maintenance, such as the brake light turning on in your automobile or the perception that stopping is taking longer than it should. You ought to get a brake check as soon as possible in either of these scenarios at your neighborhood mechanic. But are you aware of the additional symptoms that could point to a failing brake system? Here are five tips that could perhaps prevent a major accident in the future.
Your mother constantly warned you against playing loud music in the car because it could damage your ears. Additionally, it's bad for your brakes. This is due to a little indication in your braking system that makes a high-pitched squeal when your brake pads need to be replaced as one of the warning indicators that your brakes need maintenance. Furthermore, even if this sound is loud enough to be heard with the windows open, it might be difficult to hear if Lady Gaga is playing loudly on the stereo. You should keep an ear out for a loud grinding sound in addition to the sensor's shriek. This indicates that you have used up all of your brake pads, and that when you use the brakes, the metal of your calipers and rotors are now grinding against one another. Not only is this a bad way to stop your car, but there's a good risk that you'll also damage your rotors, making what would have been a reasonably simple and inexpensive pad job into a more expensive rotor resurfacing or replacement procedure.
A few words on how your brakes function first. The majority of automobiles use disc brakes. These work similarly to the brakes of a ten-speed bicycle. A series of cushioned clamps known as calipers are triggered by a hydraulic system that is supplied with braking fluid, which causes them to push together on a disc known as the rotor. The car ultimately comes to a stop due to the friction between the pads and rotor. As you can expect, the pads will eventually start to deteriorate over time, which will make them less efficient in slowing and stopping your automobile.
Fortunately, measuring the thickness of your brake pads—the ones that press against the calipers—is a simple process. All you have to do to see the gleaming metal rotor within your wheel is to peek between the spokes. When you do, look around the outside edge where the metal caliper may be seen. You can see the pad between the caliper and the rotor. Your pads should normally be at least one-quarter inch thick, but you'll have to guess. It's a good idea to get them changed if they are any thinner than that. You will need to remove the tire from your automobile in order to see the rotor and pads if the spokes on the wheel can't be seen through. In either scenario, it's a good idea to check the rotor itself while you're looking. It ought should go rather easily. It may be necessary to replace that item as well if you notice any significant dents or grooves.
The type of rapid brake pedal pulsing that results from the quick grabs the system delivers to the rotor to slow the car is recognizable to anyone who has ever had to perform an emergency stop in a car with antilock brakes. However, you might have an issue if your brake pedal pulses in this manner when you are braking normally. A vibrating brake pedal typically implies warped rotors. Their irregular surfaces will vibrate on the brake pads, giving you input as you press the brake pedal.
A tempering pedal
Your brake pedal may also vibrate or otherwise indicate that you should check your vehicle's braking system. It may be a sign of worn brake pads or a problem with the hydraulic system, such as air in the line, an air leak, or a brake fluid leak, if the brake pedal is soft and almost touches the floor before applying the brakes. Put a light cardboard or old white sheet under the car overnight to check for fluid leaks. Examine any fluid that gathers in the morning. Brake fluid will resemble frying oil in appearance and consistency.
A pedal that causes the brakes to instantly grasp at the slightest touch is the opposite of a mushy pedal. This can be a sign of an unevenly worn rotor, filthy brake fluid, or moisture-induced fluid contamination. Such an issue can be resolved with a simple fluid change, which you can perform yourself or have done at your mechanic's shop. Finally, if stopping the car feels like Fred Flintstone is going to have to plant his feet through the bottom of the vehicle to stop it, you might have an obstruction in the brake line or an issue with the vacuum system. Both scenarios would make it extremely difficult to press the brake pedal and necessitate rapid repair.
Had it ever seemed as though your car has a mind of its own? As if it intends to turn to the right or left when moving or braking? If so, there might be an issue with the brake system. A caliper that is jammed could be the root of this pulling. Your automobile may pull to the side where the caliper is jammed since such a circumstance would result in friction on one wheel but not the others.
A collapsed brake hose, which would cause your calipers to move unevenly when applying the brakes, or uneven brake pads, which would also apply various levels of pressure to different wheels, are two additional brake-related circumstances that could cause a car to pull. Pulling, however, isn't always a sign that the brakes aren't working properly. Incorrect tire inflation or wear, improper alignment, or a suspension issue with your car could possibly be to blame. This is why, if your automobile starts to pull, you should tow it to the closest mechanic's shop for a thorough inspection.