“How do I know if my brakes need changing.”
When you’re cruising along Dewsbury Road on a crisp, bright day, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a metal box that is so heavy it could take the length of a football field to stop. That is why your brakes are the most vital safety system in your car. But how do you know if they are working correctly?
As the most crucial part of your car, you need to pay attention to any warning signs. From an obvious brake light on your dashboard to the feeling that your vehicle’s taking longer to stop, get it checked out! It might mean the difference between life and death on the road.
However, if you’re not sure then here are 5 signs that your brakes need changing, or at least checking.
1 – Stange braking sounds
Noone likes strange noises when it comes to your car, and this is especially true of your brakes. When your brakes speak to you in a high-pitched squeal, they are telling you they are in trouble! It often means that the pads need replacing.
In addition to the squeal from the sensor, you’ll also want to listen for a harsh grinding sound. This means real trouble as you’ve gone entirely through your brake pads. When this happens, it means that every time you apply the brakes the metal of the callipers is grinding against the metal of your rotors. So your car won’t be stopping effectively, plus you will be causing damage to the rest of your brake mechanism. If you don’t get this looked at quickly, it could mean a relatively easy and inexpensive pad job turns into a very costly ordeal.
2 – Worn brake pads
As you can imagine, over time your disc pads begin to wear thin and become less effective at stopping your car. But the good news is that checking the thickness of your brake pads is a straightforward job. Just look between the spokes of your wheel to spot the shiny metal rotor inside. Then check around the outer edge, where you’ll see the metal calliper. Between the calliper and rotor, you’ll see the pad. Generally, your pads should be at least half a centimetre thick. If they’re any thinner, then come and see us and have them changed!
3 – Brakes that vibrate
If you’ve ever had to make an emergency stop in a car with antilock brakes, then you will be familiar with the rapid brake-pedal pulsing you experience as a result. However, if your brake pedal pulses like this under any other circumstances then its a clear sign of a problem.
Generally, a vibrating brake pedal indicates warped rotors. Their uneven surfaces will thrum against the brake pads, and you’ll feel the feedback through the brake pedal. Your rotors usually warp when they’re under extreme stress for an extended period. For instance, by the friction-generated heat caused by steep hills or frequently stopping while pulling something heavy. So if you live up high and have a caravan or horsebox that you regularly pull this is something you may experience at one time or another.
You may also feel your brake pedal vibrating if your wheels are misaligned. Whatever the case, it is always best to see a local garage, like us, for diagnosis.
4 – Your brake pedal feels funny
In addition to vibrations, your brake pedal can give you other signals that your car’s braking system is in need of a checkup. Do you ever feel like your brake pedal is in treacle? Or do you have to press it so far in that it practically hits the floor before engaging your brakes? This could indicate worn pads, a problem with the hydraulics or a brake fluid leak. To check for a leak, put an old white sheet or light cardboard under your car overnight. In the morning, check if any fluid has dropped. Brake fluid will be clear and looks a bit like cooking oil.
The other sign of an attention-seeking brake pedal is the opposite of the above. By this, we mean an overly responsive pedal. If you experience hardcore braking responses that throw you forward at the slightest touch of the pedal, this could mean that you have an unevenly worn brake system, dirty brake fluid or other contaminants. You can easily fix this with an inexpensive change of fluid yourself, or come to us to do it.
Alternatively, if stopping your car feels like Fred Flintstone putting his feet through the floor, you might have something blocking your brake line or a vacuum system fault. Whatever the case, if you feel that your brake pedal feels odd we would always recommend getting it checked out by a professional mechanic.
5 – Are your brakes pulling?
Is your car pulling you left or right and it feels like it wants to drive itself? Well, this could be that an element of your braking system is stuck. So friction is only applied to one wheel and not the others, causing your vehicle to pull you sideways.
Alternatively, your car might have a collapsed brake hose or uneven brake pads. All of these things can cause a swerve in your drive, or resistance braking, as they apply different amounts of pressure to different wheels.
However, cars that pull can also indicate a problem with your tyres. Incorrectly inflated tyres, worn tyres, poor alignment or a problem with your vehicle’s suspension can also cause dodgy pulling sensations. So, if your car begins to pull, you’ll want to pull in and see us for quick, free diagnosis in Wakefield.
Get your brakes checked for FREE in Wakefield
If you want us to look over your brake, just pop in and see us off Dewsbury Road in Wakefield (opposite McDonalds and Morrisons). We complete visual brake checks for free! Furthermore, if anything needs fixing or replacing we will give you genuine, honest advice and a fair, Yorkshire priced quote. You can always trust us to do the best job and get you safely back on the road as quickly as possible!
Or, drop in and see us if you are passing at Cross Lane, Wakefield WF2 8DB.