Not being able to stop your car on a dime can be a big problem when traveling at high speeds, such as on a highway or a relatively free stretch of road outside the rush hours. In fact, having dysfunctional brakes can be dangerous even at low speeds in traffic, seeing as there is a high chance that you will rear end the car that is just in front of you. Whenever you start getting issues with your brakes or braking system in general, you need to quickly identify the cause of the issue in order to take the necessary steps to restore the original braking force of your vehicle. Following are some of the more common problems faced by vehicles nowadays. Try to get familiarized with them in order to be able to diagnose future brake issues much faster.
High Pitched Noises When Braking
If a highly pitched noise can be heard as soon as you start applying brakes, that probably means you should replace your brake pads. Usually, this is not a big issue: it’s just a warning sign for you to service your brakes.
Nevertheless, don’t take the warning too lightly, for you may cause damage to the rotors if you continue driving your vehicle without replacing the pads. Ultimately, this may require to replace both the good brake pads and rotors, which can be a costly repair altogether.
Soft Feel to the Pedal
A soft pedal usually indicates a leakage of brake fluid, either from the brake lines or somewhere near the master cylinder. You can check whether there is a leak by taking a look at the brake fluid indicator level. If it is low, top it up and see whether the level keeps on decreasing. If it does, then it indicates the presence of a leak somewhere in the system.
Car Becomes Wobbly, Shaking Steering Wheel
If braking destabilizes your car and makes the steering wheel wobble, you probably have some kind of issue with the brake rotors. Specifically, you could be looking at a problem originating due to an uneven wear rate of the rotors themselves. If the unevenness of the rotor face is the root cause of the problem, you will need to either get them replaced or resurfaced at the next brake service. However, make sure to test the brake calipers as well to see whether there are multiple causes to your current issue.
Burning Smell While Driving
This can be harmful, as it usually is a sign of a mechanical component overheating. In any case, slow down and pull over as quickly as you can (with regards to the safety of the other drivers behind you) to inspect what has gone wrong. Continuing to drive with overheated brakes can cause total brake failure, in which case you won’t have any reliable means of stopping your vehicle.