Being able to bring a car to a complete stop in a hurry is important and an essential part of staying safe while on the road. Most drivers brake multiple times a day, but fail to realize just what it takes to perform this vital task. The brake pads are vital in bringing the car to a stop. Depending on the type of car that you have, there may be brake pads on all four wheels. The brakes pads are made of metal and carbon fibre, which makes them extremely durable and resilient. The only time these pads are used is when you press down on your brake pedal.
The brake pads are housed in the callipers and when the brake pedal is pushed the callipers put pressure on the pads, which then press up against the brake rotors. As time goes by, the wear and tear that come from the friction with the rotors will require the pads to be changed out. Driving around too long on with worn out brake pads can lead to a variety of other damages and in instability in your braking system. When the time comes to get the pads replaced, you will need to make sure that you pick a quality pair.
Taking the time to notice what your car is telling you regarding your braking system can save you a lot of frustration in the long run.
You’re experiencing reduced responsiveness or fading. If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal “sinks” toward the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak (in the brake hose) or a brake fluid leak. One tell-tale sign of a brake fluid leak is the presence of a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked. Brake fluid looks similar to fresh motor oil, but with a less “slimy” texture.
Your car is pulling. If your vehicle “pulls” to one side while braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or that there is foreign matter in the brake fluid. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.
There’s a grinding or growling when you brake. This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely, most likely beyond replacement. The grinding or growling noise is caused by the two pieces of metal (the disc and the calliper) rubbing together. This can “score,” or scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, do not be surprised if your mechanic tells you that the rotors need to be “turned” (a process that evens out the rotor surface), or even replaced.
Your brake pedal vibrates. A vibration or pulsating brake pedal is often a symptom of warped rotors (but can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment). The vibration can feel similar to the feedback in the brake pedal during a panic stop in a vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes
It is a sign of warped rotors if the vibration occurs during braking situations when the anti-lock brakes are not engaged. Warped rotors are caused by severe braking for long periods, such as when driving down a steep mountain or when towing. Tremendous amounts of friction are created under these conditions, heating up the rotors and causing them to warp. The vibration is felt because the brake pads are not able to grab the surface evenly. If you drive in these conditions, make sure to stop periodically to allow your brakes to cool off.
For many owners, maintaining the vehicle’s brakes is something that is often overlooked. But keeping your brakes properly calibrated and in good working order can prevent costly repairs down the line, and, more importantly, help you avoid a collision.