Your Brake Questions Answered
Think fast. Stop faster.
Brake Problems and Symptoms
Why is it important to get my brakes inspected at the first sign of a symptom?
Hearing abnormal sounds? Smelling foul odors emitting from your tires? Feeling pulsations when you brake at high speeds? If any of these apply to your vehicle, make sure you get your brakes inspected before more expensive parts wear down due to metal–on–metal grinding.
The most common problem we find are rotors that are warped and damaged when worn out brake pads and shoes haven’t been replaced – ultimately shortening the life of healthy parts due to that metal–on–metal friction.
These are some of the sounds, smells and sensations that are trying to tell you to get your brakes checked:
- Screeching, squealing, grinding and other awful braking sounds are the main symptoms warning you that your brake pads & shoes should be inspected right away. The sooner you stop in, the better your odds of addressing worn–down pads and shoes before they affect other more costly parts – resulting in more expensive repairs that could have possibly been avoided.
- Vibration and pulsation traveling through your brake pedal and steering wheel. When you brake, are you shaking along with it? If this feeling applies to you, your brake system is giving you a pretty big hint to its worn–down condition. Driving with this problem cannot only warp your rotors from metal–on–metal friction, but it can also turn a small brake repair into a big and expensive repair. Stop in to Tires Plus as soon as possible if you notice this severe symptom.
- Braking functions requiring more brake pedal pressure. If you notice you’re pressing your brake pedal farther than normal in order to stop your vehicle, you’ve entered the beginning stages – and one of the first signs — of brake pad wear. Although this symptom is not as common today as it was in the past, this should never go unchecked. Don’t press your luck — because the more you have to press down on your brake pedal, the closer your car is to an "I can’t brake" situation.
- That foul, noxious smell coming from your tires is a cry for help. If you start noticing awful smells coming from your tires, do not drive your vehicle any further than to the nearest Tires Plus. Those nasty smells could have dangerous consequences if you delay inspection. The safe bet is to have our trained technicians perform a brake inspection to determine which part (or parts) of your braking system has been affected and in need of immediate repair.
- Your brake warning light is on. If this light appears, your best insurance against whatever triggered this warning is a visit to your nearest Tires Plus. We’ll perform a free brake inspection to make sure it’s not just a glitch in your computer system.
What other warning signs can I look for if I think my brakes are wearing out?
Braking systems have unique and varying makeups, so we’d rather not scare you with worst–case scenarios and the hundreds of different symptoms each vehicle type can experience. No one needs the added trouble — or anxiety — of self–diagnosing a vehicle problem that is either rare or hard to detect without specialized equipment.
If you have concerns about your braking system that aren’t covered in the previous questions, please call your local Tires Plus and we’ll arrange your free brake inspection. Our trained professionals will determine if any parts need to be replaced or repaired, and provide you with an estimate of those costs. You could have no problems relating to your brakes at all. But, rest assured, if you have any related problems, we can find them.
Put an end to your brake worries today.
Schedule an appointment at Tires Plus for a Brake Inspection today.
How can I ensure my rotors last longer?
There are five ways to increase the life of your rotors. Follow each one and you’ll be surprised at how much longer your rotors could last.
- Stop–and–go driving aggravates rotors. If you’re a big–city driver, you’re probably a big stop–and–go type of driver (whether you like it or not, thanks to traffic). This scenario leads to brakes wearing down faster, especially your brake pads. If your lifestyle demands this type of driving, be sure to have your brake pads inspected more often or replaced sooner. Leaving worn brake pads on your vehicle can warp your rotors, resulting in more expensive repairs. Have your brakes inspected at least once a year just to be safe and to protect your more expensive parts.
- Put an end to excessive brake pedal usage. We’ve all done it — relied on the brake pedal a little too much. Some drivers, however, make it look like they’re braking more than they’re going. Riding your brake when you don’t need it can wear your pads down pretty fast, and it’s also a leading cause of rotor warp due to the excessive heat generated.
- Stay off his/her tail. Conservative driving habits pay dividends in the form of maximizing the life of your brake parts. Avoid tailgating, give yourself adequate space from the car in front of you, and you’ll find that you’ll need to brake less often. Natural deceleration is the name of the game when it comes to extending the life of your brakes. More distance gives you time to naturally slow your vehicle on its own, instead of resorting to the brake every time. It’ll also generate less heat, friction and wear in your brake parts.
- Retire all Aggressive Driving Habits. Nobody appreciates an aggressive driver — especially your brakes. Last–second braking can lead to excessive heat, roasting your rotors. Put an end to this dangerous habit, and you could also put an end to the expensive brake damage that this dangerous driving habit can cause. Take a look at how you can reduce any aggressive habits in your driving, and you’ll find you’ll save more than just your brakes.
- Get the junk out of your trunk. Bet you didn’t think that set of workout weights in your trunk was making a big impact on your brakes, did you? Well surprise, it does. The more weight your car has to lug around, the more brake pressure you’ll need to bring your car to a stop. Not only that, but the added weight will wear those brakes down more quickly. Examine what you don’t need in your trunk and remove it. Less extra weight means better stopping power and longer lasting brake components. (Besides, it’s time to get those weights back in your house.)
Can you tell me the life expectancy of the rotors, brakes, pads, calipers, etc. you install?
Driving habits are the biggest factor when it comes to the life expectancy of your brake parts. The first and most important step to proper brake maintenance is having them checked out before problems worsen or develop. Never ignore a brake problem — because they never get better on their own.
The hard parts are built for lasting durability: Rotors and calipers can last for a long time IF you maintain them and follow their recommended inspection intervals.
Warning: Completely worn brake pads can damage your rotors pretty fast, requiring expensive repairs. Pay close attention to brake pad wear – their symptoms are pretty noticeable when they are in need of replacing. Replace them before they compromise your more expensive parts, such as your rotors.
Calipers are in it for the long haul. Calipers can last a long time if you play your cards right. Their biggest foes are heat and corrosion. If you don’t maintain your vehicle with routine and manufacturer–recommended maintenance, it can lead to caliper corrosion and leaks.
The main culprits for these symptoms are constant stop–and–go, worn pads and metal–on–metal grinding. Road salt and weather conditions can also cause caliper corrosion. Schedule your annual brake inspection, and we’ll give you a complete evaluation of your braking system. Your car’s next recommended maintenance is listed in your owner’s manual. Every vehicle varies, so make sure to always follow the recommendations for your specific vehicle.
It’s about being balanced. When you’re off–balance, you’re bound to fall over, right? Well similar types of problems can occur with your suspension system’s shocks and struts. If they’re off–balance, you might have noticed a shift in your vehicle’s weight distribution.
The best way to detect this problem is if you’re braking and you can feel the front–end nose dive as it comes to a complete stop. The distance needed to stop your car will also be longer, resulting in faster wear on your front brakes, not to mention the increased likelihood that your car won’t stop in time to avoid the vehicle in front of you.
The Great Pull: When you apply your brakes, is your car constantly pulling to the left or right? This is not the road playing tricks on you — it’s an indication that your brakes or suspension are not functioning well and are due for an inspection. Stop in and we’ll help set you back on the straight path.