The Ways Your Car Tells You It's Time For Brake Service

Your brakes tend to give you the same service until they wear down to a certain point or some component of the brake system fails. In most cases, your brakes give you some warning that there is a problem, giving you time to get in for a brake inspection and service. If you ignore the warnings, you may be looking at a car that isn't safe to drive, and a more expensive repair bill. Here are the warnings that tell you it's time to get to the brake repair shop.

A Noisy Brake Warning Indicator

A small metal tab begins to rub against the metal surface in the brakes when the brake pads have worn down to their minimum safe thickness. This makes a screeching noise every time you put on the brakes and is hard to ignore. Once you begin hearing the noise, you may have several days or weeks before your brakes become unsafe, depending on your driving habits and frequency. A good habit is to set up an appointment to have the brake pads replaced soon after the noise starts.

Your Car Lunges to One Side

If you have to fight to keep the car driving straight when you put on the brakes, you may have a broken caliper or one that is out of adjustment. The caliper applies pressure to the pads, pressing them onto the rotors to slow down the car. Your brakes are adjusted so that all of the calipers apply even pressure to stop the car. If one caliper is out of adjustment or has failed, it may put different pressure on its pads, causing the car to pull to one side or the other when your apply the brakes. This makes the car dangerous to drive, especially when you need to stop suddenly in an emergency. You should get your brakes looked at as soon as possible.

You Have to Push the Break Pedal Harder to Stop

Your brake system uses hydraulics to control the brakes evenly. The master brake cylinder contains brake fluid which is sent out to all of the brakes through small tubes called brake lines. When you push on the brake pedal, this causes the master cylinder to put pressure on the fluid in the brake line which activates the brake calipers. If you must push harder on the brake pedal to stop the car than before, one or more problems could be the cause:

  • the brake fluid is low in the master cylinder
  • the master cylinder is leaking brake fluid
  • air is being allowed into the master cylinder
  • there is a leak in a brake line allowing fluid to escape

If the brake pedal feels "mushy," you have to pump it or push it to the floor to get the car stopped, get your car into a shop quickly. A problem with your brake's hydraulic system can cause your brakes to fail completely and you won't be able to slow down or stop your car. Contact a company like Big Mechanic for more information.