You’re at your lube shop when they tap on your window. The tech looks grim and your heart flip flops. What’s wrong with your car now?
You’re informed that you need new brakes, but didn’t you just get those 20,000 miles ago? Here we’ll look at some of the top hints that you really do need a replacement- and reasons you don’t.
Not So Good Vibrations
When you step on the brake pedal going 90 up the interstate, you feel the pedal vibrate wildly beneath your foot. Or! You feel the car jitter like it’s had too much coffee.
You probably need new brakes.
Though these symptoms aren’t a 100% guarantee that you need to replace your brake pads, they’re a very good hint. Usually this happens because the brake pad is sliding when it tries to get a grip. This means that your brakes are starting to fail and that they’re raking up your rotors.
Check your brake pad width. Peek in between the spokes of your wheel and look at the brake pad. If it’s less than ¼ inch thick, it’s time to replace them. Look up a video to show you how- it’s much cheaper to replace at home than at a mechanic.
A Car With A Mind Of It’s Own
You tap your brakes and your car snatches to the left like it’s trying to catch a home run baseball at the World Series. This is another telltale sign that you need brakes, but it’s not as common as a vibrating pedal.
What’s happening? Your car is catching itself on the side that the brakes aren’t worn down and rolling on on the side that they are. This means that you have uneven brake wear, which may be worth a trip to the mechanic. If you changed both brake pads at the same time on your last change, it’s best that you let a professional make sure something isn’t out of whack.
There are so many reasons why a car might suddenly decide to start screaming like a banshee. Brakes that have locked shut, brakes that are eating their rotors, brakes that simply need to be replaced or brakes… that have a stone stuck in them from a gravel drive way.
If your brakes are screaming, put your car up on a jack stand and take the wheel off. Take a close look at the brake housing and see if there’s any hint of why they’re making so much noise. The fix for this could be as simple as some brake cleaner sprayed on a rusty part. Or you may need a professional to completely overhaul your brake system. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Remember to check your brake fluid regularly as this can also cause some of the issues we’ve mentioned here today. This is one of the few parts we don’t suggest trying to pinch pennies on too tightly. A quality brake system will last much longer than a cheap, after market type.