Five Signs Your Brakes Are Going Bad

Your automobile’s braking system converts kinetic energy, the energy of motion, into heat to break the kinetic energy cycle, i.e. motion. The parts of your vehicle’s braking system work together to produce hydraulic pressure and friction to multiply your foot’s force on the brake pedal so you can slow down and stop your car, truck, or SUV. Bad brakes cannot produce the friction and heat needed to break the kinetic energy and, consequently, the brakes may fail. Central Auto Care wants you to avoid this at all costs so you stay out of danger. Here are five signs your brake system is going bad and needs repair.

1. Braking Noise

If you slam on your brakes to avoid an accident they will screech; otherwise, you shouldn’t hear any noise when you depress the brake pedal. Disc brakes, which are commonly found on the front of your vehicle, have brake pads. Drum brakes, commonly found on the rear wheels, have shoes. Any noise at all – grinding, rubbing, screeching, squeaking, or squealing – indicate a problem with the pads or shoes.

2. Brake Pedal Vibration

Braking should also be smooth. You shouldn’t feel your brake pedal or steering wheel vibrate when you slow down and stop. If you do, you likely have a problem with the brake’s rotors. The brake pads press against the rotors to stop your automobile and, over time, this constant pressure warps the rotors. As such, the pads press against a warped rather than smooth surface and you feel the vibration as a result.

3. Brake Pedal Softness

Your brake pedal is consistent in its resistance to your foot. Power brake system pedals usually stop about 38 mm from the floor; manual brakes stop about 76 mm. If you notice you must press down harder to get your vehicle to stop, or if you notice your brake pedal sinks or feels soft, something is wrong with the brake system’s master cylinder or there’s a problem with your brake lines or fluid.

4. Burning Smell When You Brake

New brake pads will smell a little when you first you use them but your brakes should never smell as if they’re burning when you slow down and stop. If you can smell your brakes – usually a noxious chemical smell – pull over to safety immediately because the brakes are overheating. Overheated brakes will fail eventually, so it’s best to call for a tow to the nearest auto service shop. Please don’t take chances.

5. Brake Warning Light

Finally, your brake system has a dashboard warning light that also serves as a reminder that you have your parking brake set. If your “Brake” light comes on when you apply your brakes, or if it comes on and stays on after you start your car, truck, or SUV, and have released the parking brake, your vehicle’s onboard computer is telling you the brake system sensor reported an error.

Bring your vehicle into Central Auto Care in Okotoks, AB, right away. We’ll inspect your brake system to find and fix the problem.

Image Credit: Kay4yk /

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