Your brakes go through a great deal of wear and tear. They are the only thing in between your car and whatever you are trying to avoid -- another car, running through an intersection when someone else is already there or a looming building. You need them to be in top shape every time you drive. Here are some ways to tell when you need to have brake repair work completed.

Noisy Brakes

The first indication of trouble that you might notice with your brakes is that they make noise. While brand new brakes often have some squeaking as the brake dust is being worn off, if you hear noises during any other time while you are braking, you need to get your brakes looked at. Keep an ear out for squealing, squeaking and other piercing sounds.

Your Brakes Lock Up

If you start to gently apply your brakes during a routine stop -- without slamming on them -- and you feel them locking up, you need to have them looked at immediately. Brakes that lock up during normal operation can cause you to go into a skid, lose control or both. In fact, if your car was manufactured after the early 1990s, it should be equipped with an anti-locking braking system (ABS) that makes brake lockups nearly nonexistent.

Braking Changes

Once you have been driving your car for awhile, you get to know how it feels when you brake. This is important to stay vigilant about because any changes in the feel of the brakes or the reaction of your car means that you should make an appointment with your brake shop as soon as possible. Pulling to one side, reduction in braking time and resistance when braking are just a few of the signs that indicate follow up is necessary.

Your Brakes Feel Different

While your brakes shouldn't resist your efforts to depress them, neither should they feel spongy or soft while you are trying to stop your car either. Each vehicle has a different feel to it when it comes to braking so this is another indication that you need to always be aware of your own particular car's habits. This way you can catch unusual braking patterns before they become a problem.

Time is of the essence when it comes to your brakes. If you have any of the above indicators that your brakes are becoming compromised, you should visit your brake shop as soon as possible. Not only will doing so help keep your safe, it could reduce the costs associated with repairing your vehicle as well.