Although every part of a car is important (okay, omitting all the comfort items like radios, headrests, and cup holders), the brakes are the most vital piece of equipment. Most of a car’s parts function to propel you forward, but the brakes are what keep you from losing control and putting yourself and everyone around you at risk. So if you’ve noticed that your brakes aren’t quite on their game, now is the time to act. We’re going to go through some common brake problems to help you better understand what is wrong with your car and how you should react.
Common Brake Problems
There is a strange or funny sound. If your brakes are making an unusual noise (like a squealing sound), it could be the result of one of many causes. Maybe your brake components are moving around when they shouldn’t be, maybe your brake linings need to be replaced, or maybe your brake system needs to be cleaned—all are viable causes. When you take your car in to be inspected, the mechanic should look for issues like binding, corrosion, lack of lubrication, worn pieces, and damaged components. They may also need to clean the caliper moving parts, pad abutments, rotor, or drum brake systems.
There is a pulsing sensation. This could be a sign of rotor lateral runout (which can be the result of overheating due to overuse) and thickness variations. You may want to check and clean the hubs and the hub mounting pad as well. Finally, the pulsation could also be caused by an uneven tightness of wheel lugs or a tire or wheel that is out-of-round or imbalanced.
There is a lot of dust. Small bits of material fall from the brake pad when you apply pressure. The amount of this “brake dust” depends on the friction of the material choice. Metallic brake pads will cause a lot of dust, for example, while ceramic brake pads cause very little. Be sure to wash off this dust so that it doesn’t damage the finish of the wheel.
The brake pads are excessively worn down. Worn-down brake pads are generally due to poor maintenance, a hard driving style, or vehicle usage characteristics. Driving in short, quick trips, overloading the vehicle, or leaving your foot on the brake pedal can cause this brake pad wear. To prevent this, don’t be rough on your car and take more highway trips. However, excessive wear can also be a result of residual pressure trapped in the hydraulic system. If you have your brakes inspected regularly, this should never be a problem.
The brakes aren’t performing well. Poor stopping performance could be the result of any one of several vehicle problems: a past brake job was not done correctly, components are failing, you’re overloading the vehicle, you need new brake linings, or you’re not installing the correct kind of friction material. Whatever the cause, you should take it in to be checked out by a mechanic.
If you have been experiencing any of these common brake problems, take a look at your car yourself or have a mechanic inspect it. Brake problems are serious and should not be treated lightly. Just imagine how dangerous it would be if suddenly, you couldn’t stop your car from moving but you were on a busy road. Don’t wait until the problem escalates. Get these common brake problems checked out now by your local mechanic.