Your brake system is at the top of the list when it comes to vehicle safety. August is Brake Safety Awareness Month, and it is the perfect excuse to have your brakes inspected and make sure that they are in a safe working condition.
If you have any concerns about your brakes just call Meridian Automotive to schedule your free brake inspection. If you just want to learn more about home to know when something might be wrong with your brake we have included some great information below. Remember you can call the professionals at Meridian Automotive and it would be our pleasure to answer questions about any part of your car.
Brake Safety Awareness Month is a campaign, started by the Car Care Council, that aims to make sure all motorists understand how important it is to have routine brake inspections. When brake inspections are done routinely, you ensure that you know when you are in need of a brake service or repair so you are never in danger of having them fail when you need them most.
The brakes on every vehicle should be inspected at least once a year for damage, wear, and tear, according to the Car Care Council. As we mentioned in one of our previous posts, the life span of your car’s brakes is largely dependent on the type of car you own, and can also be impacted by how you drive and the degree to which you use your brakes. Some brakes can last as long as 70,000 miles before they need replacing or care, whereas others may only last around 25,000 miles. It is because of this difference, and the fact that the braking systems don’t always abide by the mileage recommendations, that yearly inspections are recommended.
In addition to having your brakes inspected annually, car owners should be able to recognize the signs that something may have gone wrong with the brakes or that they have started to wear down. Just because they seemed fine upon inspection doesn’t always mean that you will remain in the clear until your next inspection.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR BRAKES ARE WORN
Two ways to tell if your brakes are becoming worn are to look and listen.
What are you looking for?
Kneel down next to the wheel of your car and look between the wheel spokes. The large round thing in there is the rotor, the big metal thing clamped around it is the brake caliper. When you look down inside the caliper you will see something pressed against the rotor. That would be your brake pad. You actually have a brake pad on each side of the rotor, but you will not be able to see the one on the other side without taking off the wheel. Brake pads will generally wear evenly, so this isn’t a big deal. You can safely assume that what is happening on the visible pad is happening on the pad that is out of site. If you see less than 1/4th of an inch of pad, then you should make an appointment with your mechanic as soon as possible.
What are you listening for?
In order to hear if your brakes could be worn you will need to shut off the radio and A/C, and roll down your windows. If you hear a screeching sound whenever you hit the brakes, you are hearing the indicator that is built into your brake pad. The indicator is a little piece of metal that is embedded into the brake pad material. When the pad gets worn down enough, the indicator will rub against the metal rotor. This makes that annoying high-pitched screech that tells you it is time to have your brakes looked at.
*If it has just rained or your car has been exposed to water of some sort, a small layer of rust may build up on the rotor causing a similar sound. This would only happen until the rust layer wears off. So if the sound goes away after a few stops, and your vehicle had recently been exposed to water, then you are probably fine.
OTHER SIGNS OF BRAKE PROBLEMS
Should you experience any of the following symptoms, you should bring your vehicle in for maintenance as soon as possible.
Growling or Grinding Noise
This occurs when the brake pad is completely worn down and the metal backing plate of the pad is exposed and rubbing against the rotor. (Which would mean you weren’t listening for the screeching noise we mentioned above.) If this is the case, you will have very limited stopping power, and situations can become quite dangerous. Your problem also just got a little more expensive, as you will now most likely have to replace the rotors as well. When your brakes are growling or grinding, you need to get to a mechanic as quickly as you can.
Lack of Responsiveness
Lack of responsiveness or “fading” usually occurs when you have a leak in your brake system. Either brake fluid is getting out somewhere, or air is getting in. So if your brake pedal seems to “sink” towards the floor when you apply constant pressure, or you find yourself needing to apply more pressure when stopping, bring your vehicle into a mechanic and have them inspect your brake system for leaks.
If your car “pulls” to the left or right when you hit the brakes, they could be wearing unevenly. You should have your vehicle looked at by a mechanic, as this would mean that you are in need of an adjustment.
If you feel vibrations in your foot when it is on the brake, this could indicate warped brake rotors. Rotors can become warped from heavily breaking for long, sustained periods of time. Like when you are towing or driving down steep mountains. Vibrations, however, could also be an indication that your car is out of alignment. In either case, it is a good idea to have it looked over by a trusted mechanic.
Brake Light Illuminated
If the dashboard light that indicates brake trouble comes on, then don’t hesitate to take your car in and have a mechanic look at your brakes. This light could be indicative of a problem with the anti-lock brake system, or signaling that your brakes are in danger of failing shortly. Never ignore the brake dashboard light.
The brakes are one of the most important safety features on your car, so you should never gamble with their care. If at any time you experience any of the above issues, or you are unsure if there is a problem with your brakes or not, we invite you to visit us at Meridian Automotive. We are happy to help you with any brake or other automotive repair needs you may have. Please call us at (208) 297-553, or schedule your appointment here.