When it comes to performing routine maintenance on our cars, most of us know the importance of changing the oil and checking the tires but we often forget to inspect a component that is critical for our safety, the brakes. August is National Brake Safety Awareness Month and Carcare.org, the campaign sponsor aims to make sure all automobile owners know understand how important it is to have routine brake inspections done. This basic maintenance task ensures you know when your brakes need service or repair so that you will never be in danger of them failing when you need them the most.
According to the Car Care Council, the brakes on every car should be inspected at least once a year for wear, tear, and damage. In addition to these annual inspections, car owners should know how to recognize the signs that something has gone awry with the brakes or that they are wearing down. The Car Care Council outlines seven signs that brake problems may be present.
One of the most common signs that there is a problem with the brakes is hearing the tell-tale screeching or grinding noise whenever the brake pedal is pressed. When the brake pads get worn down enough, the screeching starts so that you know it is time to replace the pads. Failing to heed this sign could result in damage to additional brake components.
Pulling to the Side
If the car pulls to one side or the other when you use the brakes, this can indicate that there is an issue with one of the brake components. This is similar to what happens if you drive a car that is out of alignment but the pulling only occurs when you are braking.
Low Pedal Pressure
If it feels like the pedal goes almost to the floor before it does anything, you have low pedal pressure. This is caused by a problem with the brakes and can be a pre-cursor to brake failure.
Hard Pedal Pressure
This is the opposite of low pedal pressure above. If the brake is very difficult to depress and you have to press down harder and harder to get the same result or it to get the brake to engaged, you have a hard pedal which can be indicative of brake problems.
If your brakes seem to engage even when you touch the pedal lightly, this is called grabbing. It can signify problems with the braking system or components.
If you press the pedal and you can feel the brakes stutter, pulse, or vibrate in any other unusual way, this is a sign that there is a problem with the brakes. This can indicate that the brakes are reaching the end of their life and may also be a precursor to brake failure.
Brake Light Illuminated
If the light in the dashboard that relates to brakes comes on, don’t wait to take it in and have the repair tech check the brakes. When this light comes on it can indicate problems with the anti-lock brake system, brakes that are worn out and failing, or another problem with the braking system that cannot wait.