Signs you need to check your brakes

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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JUST think about the number of times a motor vehicle has, out of nowhere, switched into your lane without so much as a warning, or an animal has run in front of your vehicle and you had to jam the brakes to prevent a collision.

Chances are you have had more experiences than you would like to remember — and that is fine; what you should never forget is just how essential a well-maintained braking system is to your safety.

But, just in case you don't know when your braking system has been compromised, auto service professional Dermaine Johnson says there are a number of indicators that can present, which means you might need to get your brake system inspected.

The brake pedal goes lower than usual

The motorist will realise that whenever he/she engages the brake, the pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.

Vibrations when engaging brakes

If your brake pedal starts to vibrate when you are trying to stop your motor vehicle, even under normal braking conditions, you definitely need to have your brakes serviced. This may also present itself as a chatter, pulsation or shaking not only in the brake pedal, but also in the steering wheel.

Grabbing brakes

This usually feels like a jerking motion when you step on the brake. No matter how lightly you apply pressure to the brake pedal, you find that the brake grabs rather quickly. This can be caused by a number of things, including a malfunctioning brake booster, worn brake lines, or a mechanical problem in the wheel brake assembly.

Excessive pedal effort

You realise that there is a noticeable increase in the amount of foot pressure that you need to apply in order for the motor vehicle to break its speed, or for the car to come to a halt. The cause of this may be a collapsed brake hose or crimped line, seized wheel cylinder or calliper piston, or a faulty master cylinder.

Pulling brakes

You realise that your motor vehicle, instead of slowly or immediately coming to a halt, it veers to the right or left when the brakes are engaged. The cause of this may vary from a seized calliper or wheel cylinder piston, to a leaking cylinder.

Spongy brake pedal

In this situation, when the brake is engaged, it will function; however, you will notice that the brake pedal does not feel solid, but has a spongy feeling. This may be as a result of air trapped in the brake system, a faulty residual check valve in the master cylinder, or maladjusted brake shoes.

Dropping brake pedal

The brake pedal slowly moves all the way to the floor when steady pressure is applied. You also realise that it requires pumping to restore its normal pedal height. The culprit in this case may be an internal leak in the master cylinder, or an external fluid leak in any component.

Low brake pedal

If your brake pedal travels too far toward the floor before braking, then you should be concerned. You might find the reason to be an inoperative brake adjuster, a maladjusted master cylinder push rod, or a mechanical issue in the wheel assembly.

Dragging brakes

In this instance, the brake pedal remains partially applied when the brake pedal is released. The reason for this may be that the wheel cylinder piston seized, there is an overadjusted parking brake or master cylinder push rod, a weak return spring, or master cylinder problems.

No brake pedal

This is a very dangerous condition in which the brake pedal moves to the floor with no brake action. This may be caused by a hydraulic system leak, which causes the loss of the brake fluid, or a faulty master cylinder. In this case, the motorist will have to rely immediately on the hand brake. The car should be serviced immediately.

Brake warning light on

One of the important reasons to check your warning lights is that your brake system sometimes picks up on a fault in the braking system. A warning light for the braking system usually indicates either an internal leak (master cylinder) or an external leak, and as such, this should not be ignored.

Braking noise

Whether it is a high pitch squeal coming from around your wheels, squeaks, rattles, or grinding, you should have your breaking system examined. The noises usually indicate that you need to have your brake pads replaced.

However, grinding sounds usually suggest that your issue is more than just a worn brake pad — it is the sound of metal-on-metal friction, which can be caused by worn disc pads or brake shoes.

— Penda Honeyghan


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