Over time, a car’s brakes wear out. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that has to do with the fact that brakes rely on friction, and friction has a habit of damaging components in your car, no matter how well they have been engineered.
The good news is that your car will give you some warning signs, telling you in advance if you’ve got a brake problem and what to do about it. Given how important brakes are to your safety, and the safety of your passengers and other road users, that’s a good thing. Here are some signs that your brake pads need a service.
The Brake Light Has Come On
Brake lights usually come on for two reasons. The first is when you’ve driven your car a set number of miles and the manufacturer has calculated, based on average use scenarios, that your car needs a service. This warning light doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your vehicle – just that it’s a good idea to have somebody take a look at it and see whether anything needs replacing.
The other reason your brake warning light might come on is because your vehicle’s sensors have detected a problem. If you’ve recently had your car serviced at the garage, this is a sign that there probably is something wrong with the brakes themselves and that you’re in need of a repair job.
When brakes begin to wear out, they start making all sorts of noises. One of those noises is a kind of metallic squeal while the car is in motion. This sound usually indicates that your brake pads have worn since the backplate of car brake pads is usually made from steel. When the steel on the brake pads rubs against the steel on the brake rotor, this causes the characteristic squealing sound.
Another noise you might hear is a sort of grinding sound which sends vibrations up through the pedal. One reason for this might be gravel or rock embedded in the brake caliper itself, something which can be easily remedied by removing it from the brake pad. The other reason for hearing grinding might be because the drum shoe of the drum brakes on your car isn’t properly lubricated, causing scraping on metal contact points. Your best option is to head to your local mechanic and get them to fix the problem before it causes a more expensive issue.
Shaking Steering Wheel While Braking
The brake rotor is a rotor that spins with your wheels and is clamped by the caliper when you press the brake pedal in your car. When cars are new, this rotor is of even thickness. However, rotors are used, they can wear unevenly. This unevenness can then be exacerbated if the wheel rotor gets wet and rust forms on the disc.
If the variations in thickness become extreme, this can then cause feedback to come through the steering wheel while you’re braking. Not good. Usually, this means that the rotor needs to be replaced, which is expensive.