The brakes are a vehicle’s most essential safety mechanism. Checking your brakes for damages and wear at least twice a year can certainly protect you and your passengers. At the same time, this can also save you a great amount of money since damages are detected early, thereby reducing repair or replacement costs.
Brakes may not be the most attractive part of a vehicle, but they are definitely important. Paying attention to the warning signals that signify a need for service can be a matter of life and death.
READ ALSO:HOW TO BLEED CAR BRAKES
If you think that you are having problems with your brakes, it is important to conduct a comprehensive check or have a mechanic or technician perform an inspection. When it comes to a general assessment of the condition of your brake, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the parts of your car’s brake system so that it will be easy for you to do brake maintenance.
As might be expected, there are a few prominent signs that your brakes require repair or replacement. This could include visible brake light on your vehicle’s dashboard or noticing that your car is taking too long to stop. When you notice any of those signs, you must check your brake or consult a technician or mechanic. But there are also other less obvious indications of a weakened brake system that could lead to road accidents, such as the following:
Worn or Damaged Pads: Brake pads are those parts that press down on the calipers. When you are using your car for a long time, the pads will start to get thinner. This means that these parts may become ineffective as you slow down or stop your car.
Odd Sounds: This is one of the warning signals that your brakes need to be repaired or replaced. When your brake system is damaged or worn out, it will emit a high-pitched sound. This sound is loud enough to hear, even if your car windows are closed.
A harsh grinding sound is also an indicator of damaged or overused brake system. This means that your brake pads are already worn out. Upon applying the brakes, the caliper metal is grinding against the rotor metal. This does not only make the stopping or slowing down of your car ineffective, but this can also cause damage to the rotors. Therefore, instead of replacing the inexpensive pad, you need to spend more on rotor replacement or resurfacing.
Pulling: Do you feel that your car is moving on its own as if it turns to the right or left while braking or driving? If this is so, this could be a sign of brake system problems. This pulling motion could be caused by a stuck caliper. Since this could create friction on one wheel, your car will have the tendency to move sideways towards the direction of the stuck caliper.
Vibrations: If you have tried executing an emergency car stop using anti-lock brakes, you may be familiar with this type of vibration. However, this quick brake-pedal pulsing is unusual if you are using the normal brakes. In general, a vibrating brake pedal is a warning signal of warped rotors. The uneven surfaces can cause a continuous rhythmic humming sound, and the feedback is highly noticeable in the brake pedal.
Temperamental Pedal: Apart from vibrations and odd sounds, you can also check your brake pedals for other indications of damaged brake systems.
A mushy pedal, one that easily goes to the floor prior to engaging the brakes, is another sign of worn out pads or hydraulic system issues like air inside the brake line, air leak, and fluid leak. To inspect for a fluid leak, place a light-colored or white cardboard or sheet under your car overnight. Check in the morning the presence of fluid. Brake fluid is usually clear and has the same consistency as that of cooking oil.
The counterpart of a mushy pedal is a brake that can be grabbed immediately with just a slight touch. This is a sign of a worn out rotor or unclean or contaminated brake fluid. The solution for this is to change the brake fluid by yourself or let a mechanic do this. Fortunately, this method is inexpensive.
How to Inspect Disc Brakes
When checking your brakes, the first part you need to inspect is the disc brake. This part should be shiny all over and fairly uniform.
It is normal to see lines in it. But if you can notice rough spots or prominent grooves, it’s high time for you to replace it with a new one. You may use your finger to check for roughness and grooves; just ensure that it is cooled. If you need to replace brake discs, replace both to enhance the performance of your car and maintain your safety.
How to Inspect Brake Pads
After checking the disc brakes, then it is time to inspect the pads. To see them, you need to peek up. Just follow the disc surface towards the top, and you will notice that the exterior pad is touching the disc. If the remaining part of the pad is only 1/8” or less, you need to replace your pads. This height is similar to the height of 2 stacked pennies. You don’t have to worry about replacing your brake pads as this is an easy and inexpensive method.
If the wheel of your car is not designed in such a manner that you can observe the pads and rotors through the spokes, then you need to remove the wheel. Ensure that you are using a wheel block to promote safety. Whether you are removing the wheel or not, it is a great idea to also check the condition of the rotor, which should be smooth. If you will notice any pits or grooves, it is also high time to replace it as well.