How’s this for stating the obvious: The brakes are a critical part of your car, vital both for performance and for basic safety. If there’s ever a problem with your brakes, it’s a matter of great urgency to have them looked at by a professional, then either repaired or replaced as needed.
But how can you tell when there’s something wrong with your brakes? The red flags and warning signs are sometimes obvious, and sometimes not.
One thing you can do is make sure you’re staying on top of all routine maintenance needs. That means having your oil changed and tires rotated regularly, but it also means having the brakes inspected. That way, your technician can warn you of looming problems and direct you toward corrective action, long before the situation becomes dire.
In addition, keep your eyes and ears on the alert for some of these warning signs, all of which indicate that maybe your vehicle is due for a brake inspection.
Signs Your Vehicle Needs a Brake Inspection
- Your dashboard light is illuminated. First and foremost, don’t ignore the red or yellow illuminated lights on your dashboard. These lights are your car’s way of telling you there’s a problem, and in some cases that problem might involve your brake system.
- Squealing, grinding, or squeaking noises. Do you hear odd noises when you apply the brakes? These noises could point to any number of problems with your brakes, and you should have them looked at to make sure it’s nothing too serious.
- Wobbling or scraping. Pay attention to how your brakes sound, but also to the way they feel. Does it seem like the car starts to wobble or vibrate any time you apply brakes? That’s a huge red flag!
- Spongy or unresponsive brakes. Have you noticed a major change in how responsive your brakes seem to be? Does it seem like they offer less resistance, or that they have become “softer” in feel? That’s a pretty good indicator that your brakes are being worn down.
- Pulling. When you pump the brakes, does it seem like your car is pulling either to the right or left? This pulling may be the result of brake pads that have gone bad.
- Burning smells. Another major indicator that something has gone wrong with your brakes: The presence of a sharp chemical odor any time you’re driving. This is something you’ll want to get appraised ASAP!
- A bouncing sensation. Finally, do you feel like your car bounces up and down when you apply your brakes? That’s another sign that the brakes are failing you, and it’s high time you get them looked at.
Take Care of Your Car and it Will Take Care of You
The bottom line: Your brakes are far too important to ignore, and if you encounter any of these warning signs, you’ll want to have them inspected by a pro. And again, stay on top of routine vehicle maintenance, which will help you avoid any of these ominous signs altogether.