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Just like humans, a car will usually give tell-tale signs that there is something wrong with it. However, too many drivers ignore these cries for help, putting themselves, their family and others in danger. The braking system is by far the most important safety feature on any automobile. Major accidents and repairs can be avoided rather easily if the symptoms are recognized early on. Here are 4 easy ways to avoid a major brake issue and secure yours and your family’s life.

4 Tell-Tale Signs:

1. Check ‘em out! Every time your car is at the local mechanic, make sure your mechanic gives you a detailed inspection report on your brakes. Most automotive repair shops such as Midas, Pep Boys, Firestone, and Evans Tire offer a free brake check. Ensure that they measure the thickness of the friction material left on the brake pad, measure the width and the run-out of the rotors, inspect the brake lines and master cylinder for leaks and check for proper braking to avoid any potential hazards. As a consumer, a good way to keep an eye on your brake wear is to check the level of your brake fluid in the master cylinder. If the level is low then seek automotive help.

2. Listen to your car sing! Most of the time your car is very generous about letting you know the brakes are almost due for service. Unfortunately, this sign is often disregarded by most motorists today. Typically as brakes are starting to get low they will make a shuffling sound that is in the rhythm of the tires turning on the road. As you accelerate, the repetition of the noise will increase.

This will eventually lead to a high pitched squeal as the brakes wear down even farther. Brake manufacturers implement this safety feature attached to the brake pads known as the brake wear sensor. Its intention is to be loud and annoying in order to get your attention. How some people continue to drive with this annoyance is beyond me. If you hear this squeaking, consult your local mechanic shop immediately for a brake inspection.

When your brakes start to grind, you’ve officially procrastinated too long. When your brakes are grinding, the hard metal backing of the brake pad is dragging against the rotor. This equates to a larger repair bill as you will most likely be replacing your brake rotors as well. If this continues to be ignored, it could result in damage to your brake calipers and worse, your car.

3. Get in the groove! Have you ever hit the brakes and had your vehicle shake to a stop? We call this a “brake shake” in the automotive world. It happens when your brakes overheat causing your brake rotors to warp. As your brakes get thinner and thinner, there is less material to absorb the heat put off by them. As you drive your brakes will cool down, but this hot to cold to hot effect causes the brake rotors to warp. If you have a brake pulsation then immediately get your brakes checked out by an automotive service shop.
4. Don’t forget the obvious! Fortunately, most consumers don’t hesitate to see their mechanic with all brake related issues. A soft or squishy brake pedal could mean that the brake pads or getting low as well. It could also hint of a brake fluid leak or brake master cylinder problem as well. If there is no pedal or as mechanics call it, a “dead pedal”, call a brake specialist immediately and do not drive your car!
Some have also experienced what is called a “hard brake pedal”. This is when it seems to take all of your strength to press the brakes, but they just don’t seem to stop. If either of these symptoms is discovered then call your mechanic immediately before driving any further.
The brake system is the most important safety feature on your vehicle. However inconvenient it may be to have them checked, it would be much more inconvenient if they failed. Whenever uncertain about your automobile, have a qualified automotive technician check it out. Your life and your family’s life ride on it.