The basic fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t be able to drive safely without the full function of our vehicle brakes. While most vehicles feature an array of safety features, none are more important than your brakes. Without them, the consequences could be catastrophic for you, another driver, or pedestrians.
Neglecting your brakes is a recipe for disaster. And the truth is, it’s quite easy to do because of the old adage, ”out of sight, out of mind”. Most of us hop in the car and drive with blind faith that everything will work as it should.
However, before you face the reality of failing breaks, there are a few warning signs that will crop up. It’s these warning signs that you don’t want to ignore…
Failing Brakes 101: Your Brake Pedal Feels Soft or Spongy
This is one of the first dead giveaways that there is something wrong with your vehicle brakes. Typically, a brake pedal should feel firm and stable when you press down on it. But if your brake pedal starts to lose this feeling and goes soft, spongy, or sits on the floor of your car, this is your warning sign.
Most of the time, this symptom points to an issue within your brake system, such as excess air or moisture. Or, it could also point to an issue with your master cylinder. These are major issues that shouldn’t be ignored and can lead to catastrophic brake failure if the issue is not seen to.
What’s more, these problems are simple to fix. For example, if your brake feels spongy, there’s most likely air in the brake lines. A simple fix is to flush or change your brake fluid. This is also a great solution if you have moisture in the brake lines.
As soon as you notice this issue crop up, hop onto your friend Google and search for an ”auto repair service near me” for professional help.
You Notice an Unnatural Grinding or Squealing Sound
We are all familiar with how our vehicle should sound while driving it. That’s why you should always be alert to any new, unusual, or unnatural sounds that pop up — especially when pushing down on your breaks.
What you want to keep in mind is that your brakes should never make a squealing, scraping, or grinding sound when you push down on the pedal. Most of the time, this points to a problem with your brake pads, calipers, or rotors.
If you hear more of a squeaking or squealing sound, the problem could be worn-down brake pads. Basically, your wheel caliper begins to scrape against your wheel rotor when you brake, causing this sound. If you hear a grinding sound, this means your brake pads are very worn down and you could be causing damage to your wheel rotors and calipers.
This damage could lead to issues with the functionality of your wheel and cause major issues with stopping your car. This is yet another simple issue to fix. In fact, you can even inspect your brake pads yourself. As a general rule, your brake pads should have a thickness of 3mm or more in order to function at their optimum.
Your Steering Wheel Shakes When Braking
Just so you know, it’s not normal for your steering wheel to shake or vibrate when you brake or drive over a certain speed. This points to an underlying problem with your wheel rotors — most likely that they are quite uneven.
This is a problem because it causes uneven thinning on your brake pads. Meaning one brake pad becomes far thinner than the other. Ultimately, this will lead to issues with the efficacy of your breaks, as well as the direction of your steering. Both of which are extremely hazardous on the road.
You Notice a Burning Smell When Braking
Another precaution: it’s never a good thing to smell anything coming from your car while driving — not the smell of diesel, petrol, and most importantly, burning material. If you notice a burning smell while pressing down on your brake, this yet another important warning sign that something is wrong.
Generally, this smell indicates that there is a problem with your braking system and its overheating. If you begin to smell anything while driving and braking, pull over right away. There is a risk of boiling your brake fluid if you continue to drive, which is especially dangerous.
If you notice smoke coming from any of your front wheels, this means that there is excess friction on the brake caliper. This, too, could lead to major brake failure so make sure to get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
Your Dashboard Displays Your Brake (ABS) Light
If there was anything wrong with your car on an internal or electrical level, your dashboard is one of the best indicators of this. Those lights on your dashboard aren’t just for show — they are little warning signs to take note of!
If you notice that the ABS light comes on, this means it’s time to check out your brakes. It could point to a few different issues, but most of the time, it means that your brakes need a service. Otherwise, the light could indicate that there is an issue elsewhere within your braking system.
Whatever the cause, don’t ignore that small, flashing light. Schedule a car service with your mechanic and get the problem sorted.
Your Go-To for Everyday Life Hacks
At the end of the day, no one wants to face the trauma of failing brakes while out on the open road. But with the right car and brake maintenance, as well as a level of vigilance based on what your car is telling you, you can avoid this type of tragedy.
Found this article helpful? Don’t miss out on the rest of this site, packed with blogs on all things business, entertainment, technology, lifestyle, and more.