How do I know if I need a brake repair?

16-Nov-2015
Author: JT Hughes

Brake repair costs are secondary to safety.

car brakes

It goes without saying that effective, working brakes are essential to your safety and that of your passengers, so relying on your annual service to spot any problems could mean repairs are not carried out as early as necessary. The speed at which your car’s brakes wear depends on a number of factors, but if you’re regularly driving along the winding country lanes of Shropshire, you probably apply the brakes more often than on other types of roads and earlier replacement is likely. Also, if you have a tendency to approach junctions quickly or apply the brakes heavily, you should expect them to suffer from more rapid wear.

Being aware of the types of roads on which you drive, as well as your own driving style, is the first step to understanding if your brakes are likely to need renewing sooner rather than later. By listening and looking for the obvious warning signs, you are also likely to recognise if your car needs to be examined by a trained technician.

Look and listen…

One of the first signs that your car’s brakes need repairing is a squeal when braking. If this only occurs when you’ve just commenced a journey and quickly ceases, the sound is probably the result of water or dirt on the brake disc's. However, a continual squeal when braking suggests that the brake pads are wearing thin and is a good reason to have them checked by the service department at JT Hughes.

A grinding noise when braking is more serious and warrants immediate investigation, as this may mean that the brake pads have worn so thin that their metal frame is rubbing on the brake disc's. This can cause irreparable damage to the disc's, meaning you’ll need to dig deeper to pay for repairs.

A visual inspection can also be a useful way of assessing the condition of your brakes. By looking through the spokes in the wheel, you should be able to see the brake pad where it makes contact with the disc's. There should be at least 6mm of brake pad visible; any less and you should definitely arrange for your car to be inspected.

Unresponsive brakes.

When you’re driving, you become familiar with the feel of the brakes, but if you sense that they are becoming less responsive – for example, braking distances are longer than they used to be – you should arrange for an inspection to ensure that there isn’t a leak of brake fluid.

When your car is parked, check for puddles of liquid on the ground underneath the engine. Air conditioning systems dispel water naturally, but brake fluid is distinctive for an appearance that is similar to engine oil.

Vibration in the brake pedal.

If you notice vibration in the pedal when braking (similar to the sensation when anti-lock braking activates in an emergency stop), there may be a problem with the brake discs which may be warped or miss-shaped.

Warped discs are often the result of sharp or prolonged braking and mean the brake pads are unable to grip them properly. As the disc's are likely to heat up rapidly, it’s important that you take occasional rests to allow them to cool, before seeking expert advice from JT Hughes's service department.

Pulling to one side.

If you notice that your car pulls to the side when you apply the brakes, you should have the braking system inspected. Pulling during braking may mean that there is a problem with braking calipers seizing due to a build-up of a foreign body on the calipers surfaces or may alternatively be just a symptom of brake linings that are wearing unevenly.

By inspecting your brakes periodically and observing any warning signs that they are not working as efficiently as normal, you can ensure that your vehicle is given prompt attention so that any necessary repairs can be completed, offering you the reassurance that your vehicle is safe and responsive in the event of a potential accident.

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