Most drivers understand the need for good brakes. If you cannot stop your car, you and your passengers may be in grave danger. Everyone understands that if you have no brakes, you must park your car and have it towed to a shop for repairs. However, long before most brakes fail completely, there can be tell tale signs that it is time for brake repair.
What a steady low high pitched noise means.
Disc brake pads are equipped with a small metal attachment to warn you when your brakes are becoming too worn to be safe. As the thickness of the pads is reduced by the friction and wear from stopping your car, this little tab touches the rotor of your cars brakes. When this happens, it emits a high pitched rather annoying squeak. At first, this squeak will be intermittent. As the brakes continue to wear, it will become continuous when the car is moving.
There are squeaks when the brakes are applied.
Not all squeaks in the brakes are a real problem. Small pieces of debris can get between your brake shoes and the hub and make noise. Mostly, it is fine to ignore these. They hang around for a short time (less than three days) and go away. If the problem becomes long lasting, have your brakes checked. The squeak can be a sign that your brake pads have worn enough to allow the bolts that secure them to rub against the rotor or brake hub. This can be a situation that will lead to brake failure and a costly repair.
You hear a grinding sound.
In some cases, badly worn brakes will allow pieces of the braking equipment to touch each other that were not designed to do so. While there can be other things that may create this sound, it is best to have this type of sound checked as soon as possible. This can be the sound of your brakes gasping their last breath before they fail completely.
Your car shudders when the brakes are applied at driving speeds.
You really cannot miss this problem when it strikes. It can feel like you are about to lose control of your car. Several brake problems can create this effect. None of them are good to ignore. Your brakes may not fail soon, but the braking process is not safe due to the vibrations being caused by the problem.
The car seems to stop unevenly at low speeds.
This will create the feeling that you are rocking forward and backward. It can be a symptom of a couple of issues. Generally, it is best to have this one taken care of quickly. This is partly true because it may be accompanied by the shuddering feeling at higher speeds.
The brake fluid reservoir keeps needing to be refilled.
All brake fluid reservoirs will go down a little as your brakes wear. Adding in a few ounces between brake jobs is not usually a big deal. If you are having to add brake fluid weekly or more often, you have a leak somewhere in the system. If this is not fixed quickly, you risk not having brakes that work.
You find break fluid on the pavement where you were recently parked.
The brake fluid reservoir may not have lost enough fluid to be a concern. However, there should never be brake fluid on the ground beneath your vehicle unless you spilled it. Fluid on the ground means a leak. Get it fixed.
The brake pedal must be depressed too far when trying to stop.
Small leaks, weak components in your braking system, or low brake fluid can cause this problem. If refilling the fluid reservoir does not resolve the problem, you have some type of issue that needs to be investigated and repaired