Fully functioning brakes are essential for your safety while driving your vehicle. Brakes have a fairly long life, and regular maintenance and upkeep will help keep them in tiptop shape for a longer period of time. Like most things, however, brakes do wear out and need to be completely replaced. Watch for certain warning signs so you know when it's time to get your car into the shop for a brake check.
The Brakes Make Sounds
Minor squealing isn't usually something that means your brakes are failing, but if your brakes are making loud, obnoxious sounds, you likely need to have them replaced, or at least looked at. A grinding or growling sound, for example, means that your brake pads are worn completely away and that the disc and caliper are rubbing together. A high-pitched shrieking sound is another indication that new brakes might be in order. New brake pads, however, can eliminate the shrieking sound, so have your mechanic replace the pads to see if that helps before shelling out the money for new brakes.
The Brakes Vibrate
If your car or brake pedal vibrates when you use the brakes, it's a sign that you might need new ones. Vibrating occurs when the rotors become warped, which makes it impossible for the brake pads to work the way they're supposed to. Warped rotors occur during intense driving conditions, such as towing something or driving down steep mountains. If you've done these things lately, have your rotors looked at by a trained mechanic. New rotors might fix the problem, but new brakes might also be necessary.
The Brakes Feel Like They're Pulling
If your car feels like it's being pulled to the side when you apply the brakes, you need to have it looked at. This pulling happens when the linings of the brakes don't wear evenly. It can also occur if your brake fluid is contaminated, so mention this to your mechanic. Replacing the brake fluid might fix the problem, in which case you wouldn't necessarily need new brakes.
The Brakes Are Less Responsive
If you have to really push the brake pedal to get your car to stop, it's a red flag that new brakes are in order. If your car doesn't stop properly, you're putting yourself and other drivers at risk on the road. Get your car into a mechanic right away.
Your Brake Pads Are Worn Away
This signal is one you'll have to visually check, as worn brake pads don't always cause noticeable changes in your car or brakes. If the pads are less than a quarter of an inch thick, have them replaced. Doing so will help protect your brake system from more extensive damage that could lead to needing new brakes.
For more information, contact Care Muffler & Brake Shop or a similar location.