Especially if you’re not as experienced in dealing with car problems, it can be difficult to tell when a strange smell, sound, or feeling in your vehicle is a real concern or just one of those “quirks.” However, when it comes to your brakes, anything out of the ordinary shouldn’t be ignored. Even if the problem is minor, leaving it unaddressed can have disastrous consequences—expensive repairs at the best and total brake failure at the worst.
It’s best to get a professional diagnosis if you’re experiencing issues with your brakes. Keep these signs of brake problems in mind to help you determine when it’s time to stop into your local auto repair shop.
Brake Light Illuminated
Your brake lights are one of the most obvious signs that something could be wrong with your brakes, so don’t ignore them if they’re illuminated. You’ll notice we said brake lights—most vehicles these days actually have two brake lights that can indicate issues.
Your Antilock Braking System (ABS) light is a sure sign something is wrong with your brakes. If you see this light, get a professional diagnosis immediately to avoid driving under dangerous conditions.
The second light, your brake light warning system, usually turns on when the parking brake is in use. However, if it’s illuminated and your parking brake isn’t engaged, that’s also a sign you should have your vehicle checked out.
Those screeching and squealing noises when you brake aren’t normal—they’re a sign you need new brake pads. When your vehicle’s brake pads wear down, this noise is produced when the worn pads press against the rotor.
If you let your brake pads wear down too far without replacement, that screeching will turn into a grinding sound. This means you’re causing damage to your brake rotor—damage that’s an expensive fix.
Vibration or Grinding When Braking
If your steering wheel vibrates when you brake, it could point to a problem with the brake caliper (the mechanism that squeezes the brake pads against the rotors) or incorrect lug nut installation.
More likely, it’s a problem with an uneven or rusted rotor surface. Rotor surfaces need to be kept extremely flat—even an imperfection the thickness of three sheets of paper can cause vibrations to ripple through your wheel. Get your rotors resurfaced or replaced to avoid causing more damage.
A burning smell coming from your car is never really good news. If the problem is originating from the brakes, the scent will be more chemical based rather than smoky.
The smell can be indicative of quite a few different things. If you’ve just gotten new brake pads, it could be the smell of the resin burning off as the new pads are “broken in”—this is normal. It could also be a sign that your brakes are overheating, often appearing alongside a “spongy” resistance when you step on the brakes—this is not normal, and you should allow your brakes to cool before deciding on a plan of action.
Healthy brakes are a vital part of ensuring your vehicle is safe to be on the road. Along with knowing the signs of brake failure, preventative brake service is one of the best things you can do to maintain their health.
Whether you need a rotor replacement or fresh brake pads, make an appointment with Advanced Repair today for superior brake service in St. Cloud, Minnesota