Do You Have Good Brakes?
February 28th, 2014
There are some things on your vehicle that you should have confidence in and never worry about. Is everyone buckled up? Do I have a full tank of gas? Your vehicle should make you feel safe and secure, and keep you and your loved ones safe throughout your travel. It goes then, without much, saying that you also need to be confident in your brakes. This function is the one thing keeping you out of harm’s way in the event of an accident or road hazard. Think about it, you do not want to find out in the middle of a busy highway when everyone has slammed on their brakes that yours have not been properly maintained or are failing. Knowing that your brakes are in great condition will keep you safe, and prevent a leading cause for many accidents on the road.
There are several checks that you can do on your brakes, but the best advice is to get your brakes checked frequently. Your mechanic can do this easily with every tire rotation or oil change. Your brakes should be inspected at least once a year, and many states and counties require this as part of your vehicle’s registration requirements. A proper brake check can catch minor problems before they become major fixes, and replacing your worn down brake pads or cuffs sooner than later could save you time, money, and even your life. Be mindful to never ride your brakes, meaning have constant pressure on your brakes while also on the gas pedal, or use them for frequent stopping while in motion, such as traffic jams that you accelerate too fast and have to stop quickly rather than slow down. These factors can reduce the life of your brakes and cause them to wear out prematurely.
Brake Warning signs:
If you experience ANY of the following, get your brakes checked out ASAP by your trusted Automotive Technician or Mechanic.
Grinding- If your brakes grind or growl when you apply pressure or when trying to stop, this is a major warning sign that your brakes have worn down, possibly to the point of major repairs to the rotor(s). Get this checked out immediately and do not wait, your brakes are unsafe at this point.
Squealing- Squealing can be due to a few factors. Brakes that are wearing down will start to squeal, and this is a big sign they need to be replaced. However, added moisture between the tire and brake pads can also cause squealing or squeaking. Pay close attention, if the problem only happens when starting out your drive, it may be an issue with moisture. Once the tires and brakes warm up, if the squealing persists, get them looked at as soon as possible.
Needing Added Pressure- If you have to apply added pressure, slamming on the brakes to get the car to stop, you may have a brake problem. You shouldn’t have to apply more than light pressure to the brakes to get your car to slow down or stop. If you find yourself constantly having to slam on your brakes, they may need to be replaced because the pads have worn down too much or there is a problem within the braking system itself.
Long Stops- If you notice that your vehicle keeps drifting forward after you have applied the brake, it might be because your brakes have worn down to the point of replacement or there is an internal problem within the braking system. Have your entire brake system checked out for worn parts and proper brake pressure.
Pumping- Pumping is a little tougher to determine. This would depend on what kind of braking system you have in your vehicle. If you have ABS (anti-lock brakes) you may have a pumping motion that you feel happen automatically in the event that you quickly slam on the brakes or make a fast stop. If you don’t have this, and it feels as if your brakes ‘pump’ in quick bursts when you apply pressure, you may want to get them checked out for issues, bubbles, or uneven wear and tear that may cause additional damage in the long run.
Your brakes are vital, and the importance of keeping them in good condition must be stressed. Depending on your commute and driving habits, good brakes should last you several years without any issues. Brakes are often pretty simple to check, and quick to replace keeping you on the road and out of the shop. With proper maintenance and awareness, your brakes will keep you safe and ready for whatever your commute will throw at you.