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6 Signs Your Car Brakes Need Maintenance

A fender bender between two cars because the blue car's brakes went out.
Avoid disaster, learn the warning signs of faulty brakes.

Your car brakes are one of the most important systems in your vehicle. Properly maintaining your brakes keeps your vehicle safe to drive.

You should have your vehicle’s brakes inspected by a professional mechanic about every 6,000-10,000 miles, or every time you rotate your tires. Brakes need to be fixed at the first signs of failure in order to avoid higher repair bills and traffic accidents. Below are six signs your brakes need maintenance before it is too late.

Your vehicle’s brake warning light is on

If your car’s brake warning light on your dashboard comes on, it usually means you are running low on brake fluid. This is often due to a leak in the brake lines. Without the proper amount of brake fluid to maintain pressure in the brake hydraulics, your car or truck will have little or no ability to stop. You must take it to an Automotive Service Center immediately to have this problem fixed. Keep in mind, a car’s brake warning light does not come on for all issues involving the brakes. There are brake issues that can occur which do not necessarily trigger the brake warning light.

You hear a squealing or grinding noise when you brake

A squealing sound when you use your brakes usually means your brake pads have worn down to the point that the metal “squealer” tab is pressing against the rotor. The purpose of this tab is to warn you that your brake pads need to be replaced as soon as possible. If you continue to drive your car in this condition, the brake pads will soon be completely worn down. When the metal backing of the brake pads comes into contact with the metal brake rotor, it causes a grinding sound. This metal-on-metal contact will not create enough friction to stop the vehicle at high speeds. Plus, it could damage your rotors to the point that your brakes won’t work at all.

While you are driving, your brakes lose stopping power gradually

This is often due to a condition known as brake fade. This occurs when a vehicle’s brakes begin to overheat and fail. Brake fading usually happens when brakes are used more than usual, such as driving down a mountain. The safest way to address brake fade is to pull over to let your brakes cool down. After they cool down, you should perform a hydraulics check on your brakes. You can do this by pumping the pedal a few while your car is in park. The pedal is supposed to get harder to push with each pump. If it is easy to push, your brakes need to be looked at by a professional mechanic.

Your vehicle pulls to one side

Tire alignment is not the only reason for a car to feel like it’s pulling to one side. There are even more serious issues that can cause pulling, such as a stuck caliper which causes constant friction on one of the wheels. Uneven brake pads and collapsed brake hoses also cause pulling. All of these issues need to be addressed by a professional as soon as possible. If your vehicle has any of these symptoms, contact your local Automotive Service Center for a brake inspection.

Your brake pedal is easier or harder to push than it was before

You know your brake pedal. If it starts to feel unusual, either too easy to push or too hard, this could mean that air has gotten into the brake lines or that your car is leaking brake fluid. Either one of these issues is best addressed by a professional mechanic.

Your vehicle shakes

When your brake rotors become warped they can cause your brake pedal, steering wheel and even the entire car to shake. If this occurs your brake rotors will need to be replaced.

We hope this list has helped you be more aware of brake issues, so you can handle them properly should they arise. It’s always a good idea to have your brakes inspected and worked on by a professional. In addition to having your brakes worked on when there is a problem, we recommend you have regular brake maintenance checks. Depending on your driving and the severity of use that your car or truck sees, you should have your brakes checked anywhere between every tire rotation or once per year. If you tow or haul a lot, have your brakes inspected more often. If you make a lot of stops when you drive, such as with a delivery vehicle, have your brakes checked with every rotation. If you only do normal city of highway commuting, you may only need to have your brakes checked once or twice per year. If you live near one of our stores, our professional automotive service mechanics will be happy to help you with any brake issues and provide annual brake maintenance.

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