When it comes to vehicle safety, the brakes top the list of systems that need to be routinely inspected and repaired immediately should motorists suspect any problems. According to the Car Care Council, a properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle operation and control under a variety of conditions. However, many people are unaware of the signs and symptoms that their brake system may need maintenance or repair.
"Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually they're going to need to be replaced for both performance and safety reasons," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "Never put off routine brake inspections or any needed repair, as letting the brakes get to the "metal-to-metal" point is potentially dangerous and can lead to a more costly repair bill."
Symptoms of Brake Wear:
- Car pulls to one side during braking
- Brake pedal pulsates when the brakes are applied
- Brake pedal feels "mushy"
- Noise when the brake pedal is stepped on
- Repeatedly need to add brake fluid to the master cylinder
Several factors that affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.
A professional service technician will inspect the brake linings, drums and rotors, and brake fluid to determine what repairs are needed. The typical "brake job" consists of brake pad and/or shoe replacement, along with related hardware. Depending on the condition or thickness of the drums or rotors, machining or replacement may be necessary. The parking brake should also be checked for proper operation and adjustment. In some cases, the parking brake shoes/pads may need replacement.
Questions to Ask a Technician:
- Is there anything I can do to help the brakes on my car last longer?
- How does the work being performed eliminate the symptoms my car exhibited or my complaint?
- Are there any related services my car needs while this service is being performed?
- What does the brake warning light mean on my car's dashboard?