When you are driving your car and apply the brakes, do you hear funny noises? If so, you probably have a set of brakes that is sending you a message, a message that goes something like “Hey, how about a little attention.” In this article, we will look at some of the things that may indicate your brakes are needy and should be checked out before any serious problems develop.
How They Work
First, let’s look at the anatomy of modern brakes. Most cars today have disc brakes. These function in much the same way as the brakes on your bike does. When you squeeze the brakes on your bike, a set of rubber pads grip both sides of the wheel rim. Automobile brakes do about the same thing except that instead of rubber pads, a powerful hydraulic system squeezes special brake pads onto your rotors.
They Wear Out
Because disc brake systems use friction to work, brake pads eventually wear down and need to be replaced. This is the whole noise thing. The car manufacturers actually design them so they squeak when the pad material wears down. So…when you hear noise coming from your brakes, have a mechanic look them over in the next day or two. Take it from our technical resource, Palmer Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram (Roswell, GA), don’t wait too long or you could cause more damage.
Feeling the Pulse
If your brake pedal pulses rapidly when you step on the brakes, then you may have one or more things going on. If a brake rotor is out-of-round, warped or you have a stuck piston in your brake caliper assembly, your brake pedal may pulse up and down. Obviously, this is a situation that you should have looked at by a professional mechanic.
Does your car seem to have a “soft brake pedal.” A soft pedal is one that when braking goes practically to the floor before the brakes engage. Sometimes you even have to pump it up before the brakes seem to work. This usually a hydraulic system issue, such as air in the brake lines. This usually requires a common procedure called “bleeding the brakes” or some other brake-related repair. You should have this done immediately.
In general, you can stay out of trouble with your car’s brakes just by keeping your eyes and ears open for anything out of the ordinary. Brake systems today are designed such that they rarely fail but its best to see a mechanic within a day or so when you hear or feel your brakes looking for a little attention.