Faulty brakes cause plenty of rear-end collisions. Even though brake failure only accounts for 5% of car accidents, there are 6 million car accidents every year in the United States. That means that brake failure is responsible for around 300,000 accidents a year. That's a lot of car crashes! It's vital to know how to tell if you need new brakes.
Even though most car owners don't put it as one of their top priorities, the brake system is one of the most important systems in a car.
If you notice any warning signs, you should take your car in to get checked out as soon as possible.
Keep reading to learn all about how to tell if you need new brakes or brake parts.
Your Brake Light Comes On
Many things can cause one of your brake indicator lights to come on. It could be something as simple as your parking brake not released all the way.
A light might indicate that it's time for your vehicle's inspection.
A brake light may also be an indication that there's something serious going on with your braking system.
Either way, it should never be ignored.
You Hear Squeaking, Squealing, or Grinding
When it comes to car troubles, a noise comes into play a lot of the time.
Do you hear a grinding sound in the brake pedal that you can also feel when you brake? There might be a rock caught in the caliper unit, which is easily remedied.
That sound could also indicate that you've gone much too long without servicing your brakes. And if it's metal on metal that you're hearing, you could be creating grooves in the brake rotor every time you drive. That's not good!
Do you hear a metallic squeal? Do you hear a high-pitched sound that stops when you apply the brakes?
If you do, it's likely the sound of worn brake pads. Because they're made of steel, they'll make this sound when they begin contacting the rotor.
This means your pads need to be replaced, which you should do as soon as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of rotor damage, which is much more expensive to fix.
You Notice Leaking Fluid
If you find that it feels much “softer” when you brake, have a technician look for leaks. You might have brake fluid leaking from somewhere in the brake system, like the master cylinder.
The master cylinder is the part that creates all the power for your brakes. It has a reservoir that contains brake fluid.
Each time you apply your brakes, the brake fluid is pushed through some thin piping, which creates hydraulic pressure. If fluid leaks from this system, eventually, there won't be enough power to force the brake pads to do their job of clamping hard to your system's rotors.
This is extremely dangerous as it leads to inefficient braking, which can lead to a car crash.
You Feel Wobbling or Scraping When You Brake
If you feel shaking in your car's steering wheel or vibration when you apply the brakes in your vehicle, it could be as a result of an uneven rotor.
The brake rotors are big discs. They sit inside of the wheels, and when you hit your brake pedal, the brake pads hug those rotors, which slows them and your vehicle down.
To work efficiently, rotors must be smooth and completely even in thickness.
After thousands of wheel revolutions, it's not uncommon for the rotors' surfaces to develop slight variations. Rust can build up as well.
During regular brake servicing, the rotor is often smoothed and evened out so that flaws are corrected. But it has to be done to your vehicle manufacturer's specifications. Even the difference of thickness from 3 sheets of paper can cause that wobbling feeling.
Rough braking could also indicate a sticky piston or damage to your brake parts from improper wheel lug nut installation.
Your Car Pulls to One Side Or You Notice Braking is Much Softer
If your vehicle has a brake hose that's gone bad or a caliper problem, you might notice that your car pulls to one side as you brake. It might mean that one brake caliper is applying more pressure than another, which results in unbalanced stopping.
If you notice that the resistance in your brake pedal is significantly different, as if it feels “softer,” your car needs immediate service.
There could be moisture or air in the braking system. It could also indicate an issue with the master cylinder.
Either way, get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible.
You Smell Burning or Notice Bouncing
If you smell a chemical odor or a burning smell, pull over immediately so as to allow your brakes to cool and stay safe.
If your brake fluid boils, it can cause brake failure. If you see any smoke, your car is probably unsafe to drive.
If it's already at the end of its life as it is, and you want to move on to a new car, find out how much your old ride is worth.
If your vehicle bounces with sharp braking, your shock absorbers probably need to be replaced.
Know How to Tell If You Need New Brakes
If you drive a vehicle, it's crucial to know how to tell if you need new brakes.
While some brake system maintenance is expensive, a lot of it isn't, as long as you address the issue sooner rather than later.
Plus, driving with faulty brakes is dangerous, so it's important to follow a regular maintenance schedule to keep yourself and others safe on the road.
Do you have an old junk car with faulty brakes just sitting in your backyard? Even if you can't drive it, you can still sell it for cash! Learn all about it here.