Are your vehicle’s brakes making noise? Each brake squeak, grind, and sound could indicate a problem, and brake problems are among the most significant potential safety issues in any vehicle.
Brake System Components
Most modern vehicles utilize a disc brake system, which includes the following components: a brake fluid reservoir, master cylinder, brake hoses, brake calipers, brake pads, and brake rotors. Any of these components can create issues if problems are left long enough. Still, the most significant indicator of an issue with your vehicle’s brake system is sounds – squeaking and grinding are the most prominent indicators that your car needs a trip for service.
Brake System Maintenance
Most brake pads are built to last approximately 12,000 miles, and fluid needs replacement every 25,000 miles. These are just general estimates – your vehicle’s owner’s manual can give you the correct brake maintenance schedule for your make and model. Regular maintenance such as bleeding brake lines, flushing your brake fluid, and replacing any aging parts can help make your vehicle – and your money – go much farther in the long run, and reduce unnecessary breakdowns.
Are Your Brakes Squealing?
A squealing sound when applying the brakes in your vehicle is the vehicle’s way of letting you know that it’s time for new brake pads. Many pads come with this built-in wear indicator, which can help you know that there’s a problem. This indicator is a metal tab that makes contact with the rotor as the pad material wears down. On occasion, this squeaking sound can also indicate that the existing pads have a mounting issue or have become loose. In any case, you’ll want to get this issue looked at sooner than later – before that squeak becomes a grind.
My Brakes Are Grinding. Now What?
If you are still driving your vehicle and the brakes make a grinding noise when you press the pedal – stop. This grinding sound indicates that the caliper and the rotor are making contact, which is indicative of the pads mostly wearing away and is incredibly unsafe. This sound is an indicator that immediate service is required. Another reason that a vehicle’s brakes would make a grinding sound would be wear on the rotor, which will require either resurfacing or total replacement. Grinding would likely include a shake when you apply your brakes, and issues like this should be taken care of as soon as possible.
My Brake Pedal is Mushy, and My Vehicle is Hard to Stop
If your brake pedal feels mushy, it is too easy to push to the floor, or it’s hard to stop, check your brake fluid. This pedal issue can indicate that your fluid is low, or you may have moisture or air in your brake system. Without brake fluid, your vehicle’s brake system will not have the lubrication required to run efficiently.
What About Dash Lights?
Modern vehicles have electronics for everything! There are several that can give you a clear indicator of a brake problem. If your vehicle’s ABS light is illuminated, it means that your vehicle’s anti-lock brake system has an electrical problem. If the brake service light is on, it means that your parking brake may be engaged – if this is not the case, you will want to bring your vehicle in for service sooner than later – before a potentially easy fix becomes more expensive. If your car has a dash light on, you can typically bring it to an auto parts store for a free code scan before bringing it in for service.
Regular Component Inspection
The most significant routine brake component inspection you can make is your underhood brake fluid level – low fluid can indicate a leak in your brake lines, calipers, or the master cylinder. The easiest way to check for this would be to look for drips under your vehicle and check the fluid level in the reservoir. Most brake fluid reservoirs have printing on the outside, which can read “High” or “Low.” There are different brake fluid varieties – consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for information on what specific type of brake fluid your car needs before adding any between service visits.
Eugene Car Care of Eugene, OR is staffed with ASE-Certified technicians and want to be more than just your automotive repair shop – we want to be your partner in ensuring your vehicle runs as well as possible as long as possible – including your vehicle’s brake system.