Anti-lock, disc, drum… it doesn’t matter what type of brake system you have, you cannot afford for them to fail. Sure, it’s exciting in the movies but not in real life. One of the auto services we offer here at LP & Sons Auto Care is brake system maintenance and repair, and the reason why is simple: You’re only as safe as your brakes are good. Squealing isn’t the only sign of brake problems. Here are several others.
Squealing can be an indication that your brakes are wet, overheating, or that you need new brake pads. The latter will make your brakes squeal while you’re driving rather than when you slow down and stop. Grinding or scraping sounds mean the brake pad surface has worn off and all that’s left is the metal backing. The bottom line is this: You shouldn’t hear your brakes. If you do, there’s a problem.
Aside from slowing down and stopping, you shouldn’t feel your brakes, either. Your brake pedal, car, or steering wheel should not vibrate when you step on the brake pedal, nor should your vehicle pull to the side. These symptoms indicate a problem with the rotors or calipers. Usually, vibration is caused by old and/or warped rotors; pulling to one side or the other could indicate a stuck caliper on that side.
Your brake pedal can be a good indicator of brake system health. If it feels squishy or gives way in spurts when you press down on it, you might have low brake fluid, air in the brake lines, or master cylinder problems. You may also have to press down harder or farther to get the brakes to engage. In other words, it takes much longer for your vehicle to stop than it used to so you give it extra room.
You’ll smell burning rubber if you slam on your brakes, but you shouldn’t ever smell your brakes. A hot, chemical smell accompanied by squealing sounds indicate your brakes are overheating and the brake pads have glazed. A burning smell without the squeal is still a serious sign of brake trouble because they are still overheating. Overheated brakes fail, so pull over right away and call for roadside assistance.
Finally, your brake system warning light will come on if you have a brake problem. If it does come on, or you notice any of the other signs listed in this blog post, call LP & Sons Auto Care in DeLand, FL, for a brake inspection and service.