Do you hear noises when you step on the brake pedal? How about a pulsation that you can feel in the pedal itself? If you answered yes to either of these questions, your brakes are asking for help. As you probably know, when you step on your brakes, there shouldn’t be any noise and your brake pedal should be nice and firm. In this article, we will look at some of the things that indicate that your brakes need some attention.
First, let’s look at how today’s brakes function. Most cars today have disc brakes. These function similar to the way the brakes on a bicycle does. When you squeeze the brakes on your bicycle, a set of rubber pads grip both sides of the turning wheel rim and this slows down your bike. The brakes in your car operate in a similar fashion except that instead of rubber pads, a hydraulic system squeezes the spinning rotors attached to each of your wheels with special brake pads.
As you probably know, your brake pads will eventually wear down need to be replaced. During state inspections, auto mechanics check the thickness of the brake pads to judge if they are thick enough to pass inspection. They should be some ¼ inch thick or more. If you have spoked rims on your car, you may be able to look through your wheel spokes and see yourself if the brake pads are in the ¼ inch or less range. This is the visual way to inspect brake pad thickness.
Or, your brakes might start making noise. If you hear a squeaking sound when you step on your brakes, there is something wrong. Many brake pad manufacturers put little metal tabs on their brake pads that make a very distinctive squeaking sound when their pads wear thin. This will occur when you apply the brakes, not during normal driving. If you hear that sound, the service department at Deery Brothers in Pleasant Hill, IA, a full-service Chevrolet dealer says bring your car to a mechanic soon. If you wait too long, you may damage your rotors.
A “mushy pedal”, one that goes practically to the floor before engaging the brakes, is another signal to you that something isn’t right. Usually it’s a problem with the hydraulic system itself, such as air in the brake line. This is a serious problem because your brakes might not work well enough to stop your car. Bring it to a mechanic for a professional diagnosis.
Then there is the “pulsing brake pedal”. If your brake pedal pulses up and down rapidly when you step on the brakes, then you may have one or more things going on. You might have a brake rotor that is out of round or a stuck piston in your brake caliper assembly. In any case, time to have a professional mechanic check things out.
In general, you can keep your brake system out of trouble by just keeping your eyes and ears open for issues that occur when you use them.