Your brakes are an integral part of the safety systems on your car, so it's important that you keep them serviced and in good working order. Fortunately, you don't need mechanical knowledge to know when it is time for a brake inspection. The following tips can help you recognize potential issues early so you can ensure your brakes are functioning properly.
Tip #1: Don't Ignore the Light
The brake light on your dash can come on for a variety of reasons. For most cars, the brake light should come on briefly when you start the car and then it should turn off if everything is in good working order. If the light fails to come on, it is important to find out why so you can get it fixed if it's malfunctioning. If the light stays on or comes on intermittently, this could indicate something as simple as low brake pads that need replaced or a loss of brake fluid. It could also indicate a major mechanical issue, so you need to have the brakes inspected.
Tip #2: Pay Attention to Steering Issues
If your car is pulling to the side slightly, the issue may not be the steering wheel or tires. Pay attention to when it is pulling and if it happens as you brake to slow down or stop, the issue may actually be with the brakes. Uneven wear on brake pads, or a brake that isn't working properly, can result in the tires slowing down at different rates, which can lead to pulling.
Tip #3: Check for a Mushy Pedal
When the brakes are functioning properly, the brakes should engage immediately and the car should start slowing down as soon as you press the pedal. If the pedal feels mushy or if you have to push it way down before you get any braking power, your brakes may be going out.
Tip #4: Listen for Odd Sounds
Your ears another way to catch brake problems. Braking should be relatively silent. If you hear grinding or squealing when using the brakes, something could be wrong. Grinding often means the pads are worn down and damage is occurring to your rotors. Squealing can mean the same thing, but it can also mean that a pad isn't adjusted properly or that something is lodged between the pad and the rotor. Getting the brakes adjusted can save you from a premature pad and rotor replacement.
Contact a local brake repair shop to schedule an inspection if you suspect anything is wrong with your brake system.
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