6 Common Car Brake Problems and Symptoms

Your car’s brakes are arguably the most crucial safety feature. They are the sole reason you can slow down and come to a complete stop, preventing accidents and keeping you, your passengers, and others on the road safe. However, like any other car part, brakes wear down over time and can malfunction.

This begs the question: How do you know when your brakes need attention?

Being aware of the common car brake problems and their symptoms is vital for any driver. Early detection can prevent minor issues from escalating into costly repairs and, more importantly, potential accidents.

In this article, we’ll delve into six of the most frequent car brake problems and the tell-tale signs that indicate they need professional attention.

1. Worn Brake Pads:

  • The Culprit: Brake pads are the workhorses of your braking system. They consist of a wear indicator, a metal shim that scrapes against the rotor when the pad reaches its minimum thickness.
  • Symptoms: A high-pitched squealing or grinding noise when applying the brakes is the most common symptom of worn brake pads. This sound is caused by the wear indicator rubbing against the rotor. In some cases, the brake warning light on your dashboard might also illuminate.
  • Fix: Ignoring worn brake pads can lead to metal-on-metal contact between the caliper and rotor, causing significant damage. At the first sign of wear, have your mechanic replace the brake pads.

2. Warped Brake Rotors:

  • The Culprit: Brake rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to slow down the wheels. Excessive heat, uneven pad wear, or improper installation can cause them to warp.
  • Symptoms: A pulsating sensation in the brake pedal when applied is a classic sign of warped rotors. This can also manifest as a vibration in the steering wheel during braking. Additionally, you might experience a decrease in overall braking performance.
  • Fix: Warped rotors can sometimes be resurfaced by a mechanic, but in most cases, they require replacement.

3. Sticking Brake Caliper:

  • The Culprit: The brake caliper is the component that houses the brake piston and squeezes the brake pads against the rotor. A sticking caliper can occur due to rust, dirt buildup, or a faulty piston seal.
  • Symptoms: If you notice your car pulling to one side when braking, it’s a strong indication of a sticking caliper. This happens because the affected caliper is not releasing pressure on the brake pad, causing that wheel to drag. In severe cases, you might also experience a burning smell due to excessive friction.
  • Fix: A sticking caliper can sometimes be repaired with a cleaning and lubrication, but replacement might be necessary depending on the severity of the issue.

4. Low Brake Fluid:

  • The Culprit: Brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that transmits the pressure from your brake pedal to the calipers. Low brake fluid can be caused by a leak in the system or worn-out brake pads.
  • Symptoms: A spongy or soft brake pedal that goes down further than usual before engaging is a telltale sign of low brake fluid. This translates to a decrease in braking power, requiring more pressure on the pedal to slow down the car. In some vehicles, the brake warning light might also come on.
  • Fix: Never ignore a low brake fluid level. It’s crucial to have a mechanic inspect the system for leaks and top up or replace the fluid as needed. Remember, driving with low brake fluid is extremely dangerous.

5. Leaking Brake Fluid:

  • The Culprit: As mentioned earlier, leaks in the brake fluid system can lead to low fluid levels and compromised braking performance. Damaged brake lines, worn-out seals, or a faulty master cylinder can all cause leaks.
  • Symptoms: In addition to the signs of low brake fluid, a visible leak under your car, particularly around the wheels or near the brake master cylinder, is a clear indication of a brake fluid leak. A burning rubber smell might also be present.
  • Fix: A brake fluid leak is a serious safety concern and requires immediate attention from a qualified mechanic. Do not drive your car if you suspect a leak.

6. ABS Malfunction:

  • The Culprit: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is a safety feature that prevents wheel lockup during hard braking, allowing you to maintain steering control. A malfunctioning ABS system can significantly impact braking performance.
  • Symptoms: The ABS warning light on your dashboard will illuminate if the system detects a malfunction. You might also experience a pulsating sensation in the brake pedal during hard braking, similar to warped rotors. However, unlike warped rotors, the ABS will automatically modulate the brake pressure.

iTyreCare: Keeping You Rolling with Complete Brake Repair

At iTyreCare, we understand the importance of a safe and reliable braking system. That’s why we offer comprehensive car brake pad replacement service to ensure your car comes to a smooth stop every time. Our certified technicians will perform a thorough inspection of your brake pads, rotors, calipers, and lines, identifying any potential problems.

Here’s what you can expect during a brake service at iTyreCare:

  • Visual Inspection: Our technicians will meticulously examine your brake components for signs of wear and tear, including pad thickness, rotor condition, and leaks in the hydraulic system.
  • Brake Pad Replacement: If your brake pads have reached their minimum thickness, we’ll replace them with high-quality parts to restore optimal stopping power.
  • Rotor Resurfacing or Replacement: Depending on the condition of your rotors, we may resurface them to create a smooth braking surface. In severe cases, rotor replacement might be necessary.
  • Caliper Cleaning and Lubrication: We’ll clean and lubricate the calipers to ensure they move freely and prevent sticking, a common cause of uneven braking.
  • Brake Fluid Flush and Bleed: Over time, brake fluid absorbs moisture, which can lead to reduced braking performance. We’ll flush the old fluid and bleed the system to ensure fresh, clean fluid circulates throughout.

If your brake concerns extend beyond the core system, iTyreCare can also address rim damage that might be affecting brake performance. We offer rim repair services to ensure your wheels are perfectly round and true, preventing vibrations and ensuring optimal braking contact.

Don’t wait until your brakes fail completely. Schedule a brake service at iTyreCare today, and experience the peace of mind that comes with a safe and reliable braking system.