Learn the early signs of brake failure to keep you and your passenger safe on the road.
Your brakes have various ways of telling you they are worn out. Inside your brake caliper, the brake pad is held up against the brake rotor that is attached to your wheel. While you depress your brakes, these two are pressed together until the brake rotor slows your wheel to a complete stop. New brakes are gritty, rough, and create a great amount of friction, they can stop your vehicle in a matter of feet. Over time, by grinding against the brake rotor, they begin to wear down to a smooth surface. Smooth surfaces are far less effective at creating friction, so your brakes will become less effective the more the brake pads wear down. As they become smoother, your brakes will begin to show signs of failure, and most of them are pretty noticeable! Have a look at the list of the most common signs of brake failure:
Squeaking or Squealing
You may notice that your tires squeak on smoother surfaces like in a parking garage. Your brakes may create a similar sound when they are wearing out. This is created when the brake pad is too smooth when it’s pressed against the brake rotor and little to no friction is created.
Skidding or Jumping
When you press your brakes now, as long as they are working correctly, you should feel constant, steady pressure and your vehicle should slow at a consistent rate. When your brakes are worn out, this will be less steady, in fact, you may experience a jarring skidding sensation. This noise arises when the brakes are so worn that the brake rotor can’t get a grip on the pads at all, so it skips along instead of catching.
If your brake health continues to decline, more signs will become apparent. While they are skidding against smooth brake pads, your brake rotors and the caliper itself will heat up much more than is safe. The rubber on your brake pads may also heat up and produce a smoking or burning smell. In this instance, pull over immediately and let your brakes cool down. They will be almost completely ineffective if they are worn and overheated!
Any smoke of any color from your vehicle requires immediate attention. Your car shouldn’t be producing any smoke if it’s in good working order. Your brakes may begin smoking if you continue to drive on worn brake pads. As they overheat, the rubber may heat to a degree that it begins to smoke.
If you experience any of these signs of brake failure, be sure to check in with your auto repair technician. After an inspection, they will be able to tell you the state of your brakes, whether they need to be changed, and recommend the types of brake pads that are ideal for your vehicle and driving habits.