Five Brake Problems You Shouldn't Ignore

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 2 years ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • howto
  • warning
Brake Calipers

WhoCanFixMyCar highlights some of the tell-tale signs that your brakes need repairing

Brakes are made up of lots of moving parts, as well as drums, discs, cables and hydraulics. Over time, they become worn and stop working as effectively as they used to, and when this happens, it’s time to have them repaired. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to notice changes in the way your car functions if you drive it every day. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide covering the most common signs that it’s time to get your brakes serviced or repaired.

Five brake problems you shouldn't ignore:

  • Screeching/grinding sound

  • Car pulls to the side while braking

  • Brake pedal travel gets longer

  • Vibrating or pulsing brake pedal

  • Handbrake pulls up higher than usual

Brake issues

Screenshot 2022-02-16 120206

#1 - Screeching or grinding sound while braking

This is a sign that your brake pads are wearing thin. Brake pads apply pressure and friction to your car’s brake rotors, which are the flat discs you can see just behind the wheels. Eventually, the intense friction that brake pads undergo will wear them down, requiring a replacement. 

If you don’t get your brake pads changed when they need to be, you could end up causing damage to the discs, which will be more expensive to replace.

Generally, brake pads need to be replaced after around 50,000 miles.

#2 - Car pulls to the side while braking

If your car is pulling to one side, especially when braking, this usually indicates one of two things: that a mechanical or hydraulic part - usually the calliper - is sticking, or that your brakes are worn unevenly.

In either case, you should have your brakes inspected so that the problem can be diagnosed and resolved quickly. Your car pulling in an unwanted direction is dangerous not only for you, but also for other drivers on the road. 

#3 - Brake pedal travel gets longer

Usually, you shouldn’t have to push your brake pedal all the way to the floor to get results. If you notice that you have to push it down further than usual, this could indicate a number of problems. 

Leak from brake line or calliper

If there is a brake fluid leak in your car, the brake system will undergo a loss of pressure, and you may have to push the pedal all the way to the floor. 

Oil-Pouring close up

Faulty or leaking master cylinder

Another cause could be that the master cylinder is allowing fluid to bypass seals internally. The master cylinder usually controls increasing brake pressure, so if it isn’t working properly, the brake system will either be less powerful or it won’t work at all.

Air in brake lines

Air, unlike brake fluid, is compressible, which means that any air in your brake lines will make it difficult to get a consistent braking feel. 

All of these problems can be solved by taking your car to a mechanic for brake servicing.

#4 - Vibrating or pulsing brake pedal

Warping is the likely culprit of a brake pedal that feels unusual underfoot. The chances are, you probably have a distorted rotor (also known as a disc) or drum. 

Distortions are common on older cars, and they occur because brake discs have to withstand such a huge amount of heat from friction. They also have to be able to cool down again incredibly quickly for the next time the brakes are pressed.

Warping seems to suggest that the brake discs become unstraight, but this is not the case; actually, their surface becomes uneven, causing the car and foot pedal to feel jittery when the brakes are applied.

If your brake pedal vibrates or pulses underfoot, it’s best to book a brake service because the vibration will only get worse with time.

#5 - Handbrake pulls up higher than usual

This usually indicates either a stretched cable or that your brakes are worn. Either way, the handbrake is an important safety feature which should be kept in good working condition at all times. If it’s no longer working as it should, you should get it tightened or repaired.

If you notice any of these problems with your car's brakes, get your car booked in with a reliable local garage today.

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