5 Signs Your Brakes Are Failing

Updated August 25, 2023

Express Auto Service is an ASE Blue Seal auto repair shop in Fredericksburg, VA. We’re committed to dependability, honesty, and the quality that you expect from one of the top-rated auto repair shops in your area. Let’s take a look at five signs of failing brakes that you need to be aware of.

Imagine you’re cruising on the highway and notice a line of cars stopped ahead. As you grumble about the traffic, you suddenly realize that your increasing pressure on the brake isn’t doing anything; your car won’t slow, and it won’t stop. And the line of cars is getting closer…

While this nightmare scenario isn’t very common, it does occur. In fact, about 300,000 crashes per year are caused by failing brakes. Fortunately, if you pay attention, most car problems become apparent before it’s an emergency. Keep reading to learn the five most common signs your brakes are due for a visit to the mechanic.

1. The Most Obvious Sign: Your Brake Warning Sign

This light will turn on any time you engage your parking brake, but it shouldn’t be on at any other time. To rule this out, disengage the brake to see if it goes away. If you have a newer car, you may also see the ABS light for your automatic braking system in addition to your regular braking system.

If you see one of those lights, it could mean there is an issue, or it’s due for maintenance. You can use your car’s owner’s manual to help you distinguish between the two.

However, you should know that your brake warning light will not come on for all issues. This is why it’s often best to get the opinion of your trusted auto mechanic.

2. Something Doesn’t Sound Right

Any mechanic will tell you that you can learn a lot from your car if you listen to it. If you hear squeaks, squeals, scrapes, or grinding when you use your brakes, there is a good chance it’s due to a worn-out brake pad. A grinding noise usually indicates your pad is so worn out it’s now scraping against metal.

It’s best to address this and replace your brake pads right away, or you risk other more expensive vehicle issues.

3. Your Pedal Feels Soft

A soft pedal can create conditions where it is not safe to drive your vehicle. Normally, you should feel some resistance when you press your foot on the brake. If you don’t feel any, or it feels “mushy,” there could be an issue with your car leaking hydraulic fluid, air in the brake lines, or problems with your cylinder.

Note: Experts advise that if your brake could easily touch your floor, you should not drive.

4. A Burning Rubber Smell

If you smell burning rubber and weren’t just doing donuts in the parking lot, it could be a sign that your brakes are overheating from excessive use. Give them a chance to cool down before you use them again. But if much braking is expected or you see smoke, you must pull over immediately or risk your brakes failing altogether.

After this, they won’t always go back to normal, so you should make an appointment with a mechanic that offers brake services.

5. The Car Pulls When You Brake

There are several reasons your car could pull, but if it’s due to brakes, it is either an issue with your calipers (possibly worn) or one of your front brakes is out, causing the car to favor the side where the brake is working. Since this one is difficult to diagnose, it’s best to leave it to the experts.

Bad Brakes? Your Local Mechanic Can Help

Unless you’re well-trained in vehicle repair, brake issues usually portend a visit to the mechanic.

At Express Auto Service, we have ASE Certified Master Technicians on the team, so you can rest assured your car is in the best hands. So, if you’re near the Fredericksburg, VA area and in need of brake repair, diagnostics, or maintenance, we’ve got you covered.

Contact us today to schedule your next service.

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