In sunny weather, it’s easy to forget that you’re inside a huge piece of steel and glass that is hurtling through space at 60 or more miles per hour (97-plus kilometers per hour). At that speed, if you suddenly needed to stop, your car could take about the length of a football field (100 yards or 91 meters) to come to a stop. That’s only if you’ve kept one of the most important safety systems in your car in good shape: your brakes.
There are some parts of a car that aren’t very pretty, but they are very important. A warning sign that there’s something wrong with the car can make or break your life on the road.
Many people know that their brakes need to be fixed when they see a brake light on their dashboard or feel like their vehicle takes longer to stop than it should. A brake check should be done as soon as possible if you have any of these problems. Besides, do you know what else to look for to see if your brakes need to be checked? Here, we give you five things that might help you avoid a big accident in the future.
5: Worn Pads
First, let’s talk about how your brakes work.
Most cars have disc brakes. These brakes work in the same way as brakes on a 10-speed bicycle. A hydraulic system filled with brake fluid causes a set of padded clamps called calipers to squeeze together on a disc called a rotor, which makes the brakes work. They eventually come to a stop because there is friction between them.
Pads will start to wear down over time, which means they won’t be as good at slowing and stopping your car.
Fortunately, it’s easy to check the thickness of your brake pads, which are the ones that squeeze down on the calipers. There is a shiny metal rotor inside your wheel’s spokes. All you need to do is look between the spokes. Make sure you look around the outside edge when you find it. You’ll see the metal caliper there. When you look at your brakes, you’ll see a pad that goes between them and the caliper. You’ll have to guess, but your pads should be at least 1/4 inch thick. The best thing to do if they’re any thinner than that is to get them changed.
The spokes of your car wheel aren’t made in a way that lets you see through them. You’ll have to take off the tire to see the brake rotor and pads. Look at the rotor as well as the rest of the car. It should go pretty well. If you see any deep grooves or pits, it might also be time to get rid of that, too.
4: Strange Sounds
Your mom has always told you that loud music in the car is bad for your ears. This is bad for your brakes.
This is because one of the signs that your brakes need to be checked is when a small indicator in your braking system makes a high-pitched squeal when your pads need to be changed. This sound can be heard even when the windows are closed, but if Lady Gaga is playing on the stereo, it might be hard to hear.
Besides the squeal from the sensor, you’ll want to listen for a sound that’s very loud and rough. The metal of the calipers and the metal of the rotors are now grinding against each other when you brake. This means that you’ve used all of your brake pads. Not only is this a bad way to stop your car, but chances are good that you’ll also damage your rotors, which will turn a simple and cheap pad job into a more costly rotor resurfacing or replacement job.
No, it hasn’t. If it looks like it wants to turn right or left when it’s driving or stopping.
If so, this could be a sign that there is a problem with the braking system. The caliper might be stuck. When the caliper is stuck, your car can move to the side where the caliper is. This is because friction would only happen on one wheel and not the others.
When you apply the brakes, your calipers could move unevenly, or your brake pads could be uneven, which could cause your car to pull to one side or the other.
It doesn’t always mean there is a problem with the brakes if the car starts to pull. The problem could also be caused by unevenly inflated or worn tires, a bad alignment, or a problem with the suspension of your car. To find out what’s wrong with your car, you’ll need to take it to a mechanic.
Your brake pedal can also give you other signs that your car’s braking system might need to be checked.
Some cars have mushy pedals. This could be because the brakes aren’t working properly or because there is air in the line, an air leak, or a brake fluid leak. Old white sheets or cardboard should be put under the car overnight to see if it has a leak. In the morning, look at any fluid that has accumulated. In the end, your brake fluid should look like cooking oil.
The opposite of a mushy pedal is one that makes the brakes grab right away when you touch them. This could be a sign of an unevenly worn rotor, dirty brake fluid, or moisture in the fluid. With a simple fluid change, you can solve a lot of problems. You can either do it yourself or have your mechanic do it for you at your shop.
Because Fred Flintstone used to put his feet through the bottom of his car to stop it, you might have a problem with your brake lines or with the vacuum system, which can make it hard to stop. Both of these situations would make it very difficult to use the brake pedal and would need to be fixed right away.