Regular brake service is essential to safe driving. Brake parts don’t last forever and failing to replace them puts your life and the lives of others at risk. Fortunately, your car gives you plenty of warning when your brakes require servicing. It’s up to you to recognize these signs and take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic.
The following are some of the most common warning signs of a problem with your braking system. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial that you have your vehicle inspected.
Brake Light Stays On While Driving
The warning lights on your dashboard automatically come on when you start your vehicle. You need to pay attention to whether or not these lights turn off after a few seconds. A red or yellow brake indicator that stays on while driving could mean that your vehicle has detected a problem with your braking system. It could also mean that you are due for routine brake service. Either way, it’s important to take your vehicle in for an inspection.
Keep in mind that an engaged parking brake can also cause the brake light to remain illuminated. Make sure that your parking brake is fully released prior to driving.
Squealing Sounds When Driving
Your vehicle’s brake pads include wear indicators. These indicators make a high-pitched sound when your vehicle is in motion to alert you that it’s time to change the brake pads. Ignoring this sound can lead to damage to the rotors, which is expensive to fix.
Grinding Sounds When Braking
Grinding when braking typically means that the brake pads have worn through. If this is the case, the noise you’re hearing is metal on metal, which can cause serious damage to the brake rotor. An experienced mechanic can tell you quickly whether this is what’s causing the sound.
Shaking or Vibration When Braking
There are numerous causes for shaking or vibration when braking. One of the most common is an uneven rotor. The rotors can become uneven from regular use or the development of rust. During routine brake service, your mechanic will smooth out the surface of the rotor to prevent future problems.
Shaking might also occur due to problems with the brake calipers or piston. Another cause is improperly installed lug nuts. The lug nuts must be replaced in the right order and the right torque every time your wheels are removed. Improper installation can cause damage to your brake components.
Soft Brake Pedal
If you notice that your brake pedal feels different than it used to, it’s time for a trip to the mechanic. A soft feeling when braking or a brake pedal that sinks all the way to the floor generally indicates a problem with the master cylinder.
Burning Smell Coming From Your Vehicle
A strong burning odor after hard braking or driving on a steep hill could indicate that your brakes are overheating. Smoke coming from your wheel could be a stuck caliper. Either way, it is unsafe to continue driving your vehicle. Get safely off the road and call a tow truck and your mechanic.
AutoScandia provides quality vehicle maintenance and repair. Please contact us for more information about brake service in Northern Virginia. Schedule Auto Service now.