How often do you consciously think about your brakes while you drive? Not often, right? That is until you hear or feel something unusual when you engage your brake pedal. At AA Auto Tech, it’s our job to help you keep your vehicle safe on the road. So, to help you learn to recognize when your brakes are going bad, we’ve put together this list of four common signs that it’s time to have your brakes serviced.
Squeaking, Squealing, or Grinding Sounds
Noisy brakes are a dead giveaway that something is wrong with your braking system. Squeaking and squealing typically indicate that your brake pads have worn considerably and must be replaced. Because the brake pad wear indicators are made of metal, when they come into contact with the rotors, they emit a high-pitched squealing that stops when you let off the brake pedal. To avoid an expensive rotor replacement, have your brake pads replaced as soon as you hear squealing.
Grinding noises, on the other hand, can indicate a couple of different issues. You may have a pebble or piece of road debris stuck in your brake calipers, which is an easy fix. If, however, you’ve neglected your regular brake maintenance, that grinding noise you hear is likely your rotors. If you let your brake pads wear down to the metal backing plate, that plate can scrape against your brake rotors and create irreparable grooves in the metal. If that’s the case, you’ll not only need new brake pads, but you’ll also need to replace your rotors, which can be an expensive fix.
Soft Brake Pedal
If you engage your brake pedal, and you feel as though the pedal’s resistance has changed, you should have your brakes serviced immediately. A brake pedal that feels “soft” under pressure or that sinks to the floor is typically a sign of moisture or air in your braking system. When your brakes are in proper working order, you should feel some resistance in the pedal. If your brakes are slow to respond when you engage the pedal, it’s likely time for new brakes.
Vibration or Wobbling While Braking
When you brake, if you feel your vehicle vibrate, wobble, or shift to one side, this could be a sign that your vehicle has uneven brake rotors. Over time, it’s normal for your rotors’ surfaces to experience slight variations in thickness. However, for safety’s sake and optimal brake performance, you should have these tiny flaws professionally corrected.
Ideally, the surface of your rotors should be smooth and even to allow your brake pads to properly hug the rotors and stop your vehicle safely. Just the slightest variation — even a few thousandths of an inch — can affect the way your vehicle brakes.
Burning Scent During Vehicle Operation
If you ever get a whiff of a pungent, burning odor while braking, it’s likely due to one of two issues: Your parking brake is still engaged, or your brakes are overheating. Whether you believe it’s your parking brake or overheating brake pads, pull over into the nearest safe place immediately.
Release your parking brake if that’s the culprit, and allow your brakes to cool down before heading back onto the road. If your brake pads are overheating regularly, you should schedule an appointment for a brake inspection. You’ll want to make sure your brake pads are in proper working order to avoid causing damage to your rotors.
Complete Auto Repair From AA Auto Tech
At AA Auto Tech, it’s our job to keep your vehicle in safe working condition, and bad brakes are one of the most dangerous issues your vehicle can have. If you’ve noticed your brakes don’t respond quite right, it’s time to bring your vehicle in for a brake inspection. We’ll let you know what’s going on, replace your brake pads and rotors, if necessary, and get you back out on the road safely. For more information about our Hastings, MN auto repair services, or to schedule your appointment, give our team a call at 651-437-2218. Or, feel free to send us a message on our contact page. We’re always happy to help!