- Helping you drive happy

Are your brakes trying to tell you something?

Are your brakes making questionable sounds? Does your brake pedal nearly go to the floor before your vehicle slows down? Does your car or truck’s stopping power seem to be going out the window?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you’ll need to get to a mechanic, pronto. Brakes, like any other system on your vehicle, require periodic maintenance and replacement of parts to ensure they work properly. That’s common sense for most (but not all) motorists.

Thankfully, brakes give off numerous warning signs that they’d like some attention when there’s a problem. Here are a few of the key indicators that your vehicle is in need of a brake job.

Squealing: The all-important brake pad has the task of generating friction to stop your vehicle. When you hit the pedal, these pads clamp down on a rapidly spinning metal disc or ‘rotor’ that’s fixed to each wheel. This causes the vehicle to decelerate, but also causes the pads to wear as they’re exposed to tremendous heat and stress.

When these friction-generating pads are nearly worn out, a small metal tab attached to each one contacts the surface of the brake rotor to create an annoying, high-pitched squeal. That’s your cue to call the garage and book a brake job as soon as possible.

Ignoring the squeal is a bad idea. When brake pads wear out completely, dangerously low levels of stopping power and brake rotor damage can be expected.

Pulsating / Vibrations: Do you notice a pulsation when stopping with light to moderate pedal effort from highway speeds? This could be a sign that your brake rotors are warped. The pulsing or vibrating may be felt through the steering and brake pedal itself, and it can rattle the entire vehicle in extreme cases.

This is likely a sign that your once-straight brake rotors have become warped. Warped rotors happen because of poor-quality replacement parts, repeated hard, heavy braking and extreme heat. Warped brake rotors aren’t an enormous danger in themselves, though they may cause premature wear to other braking components.

If the pulsation is continual and happens even when the brakes aren’t applied, it’s likely another problem. Have your vehicle’s tires and front-end and checked over if this is the case.