Blog Car Issues & Diagnoses Battling Brake Issues: 6 Common Concerns & How to Address Them
Car Issues & Diagnoses

Battling Brake Issues: 6 Common Concerns & How to Address Them

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Your car brakes are unsung heroes, keeping you safe on the road. 

Luckily, when your brakes develop hijinks, there’s usually fair warning (unless you have the misfortune to experience massive brake fluid loss.) As such, it’s helpful to understand the common brake issues that could affect your ride and how to deal with them. 

So, without further ado, let’s explore 6 prevalent brake woes:

1. Worn Brake Pads

Brake pad wear is inescapable. Over time, your brake pads wear down, reducing braking performance and possibly leading to safety risks. Worn brake pads may cause squeaking or grinding noises when you brake, with decreased braking efficiency.

What to do about it:
There’s no way around this — you’ll need to replace worn brake pads. You can get a mechanic to deal with this task. If you want to DIY it, make sure to check the calipers and rotors for any signs of damage while you’re at it. 

2. Squeaky Brakes

Squeaky brakes can be annoying and embarrassing. There are several possible causes, but one common culprit is brake dust and debris buildup between the brake pads and rotors. As you apply the brakes, these particles can produce a high-pitched squeaking sound.

What to do about it:
Seeking professional help is always a safe bet to ensure your brakes are in top shape.

However, if you want to try and fix it yourself, you can use a brake cleaner or a simple mixture of soap and water to scrub the grime. Sanding down the brake pad surface could help, too. 

If the squeaking persists, check for damaged components like worn-out brake pads or warped rotors, as these can also be noise sources.

3. Brake Fluid Leaks

Brake fluid is vital to your brake system, and any leak can be severe. You might notice a small puddle of oily liquid under your car, or perhaps your brake pedal goes all the way to the floor. These are signs of a brake fluid leak and demand immediate attention.

What to do about it:
The first step is identifying the source of the leak. Check brake lines, hoses, and connections for any visible damage or corrosion. A damaged component, such as a cracked brake line or a faulty brake caliper seal, must be repaired or replaced. 

Afterward, bleeding and refilling the brake fluid is crucial to ensure your brakes work correctly. Remember that brake fluid leaks can compromise your ability to stop safely, so it’s wise to consult a professional if you’re uncertain about the repair process.

4. Spongy Brakes

When you press your brake pedal, you expect a firm and responsive feel. However, if your pedal feels soft, spongy, or sinks too far down, you have an issue. Soft brakes can arise from air in the brake lines or problems with the master cylinder.

What to do about it:
If you’re sure the issue is air in the brake lines, you’ll need to bleed the brake system to remove those air bubbles. 

However, a failing master cylinder could also be the culprit and will need replacing. Never take brake issues lightly. So, if you’re uncertain about these procedures, consult a mechanic.

5. Warped Brake Rotors

Warped brake rotors can make your drive uncomfortable, causing vibrations and pulsations during braking. These occur when the brake disc develops uneven spots due to excessive heat buildup.

To be clear, a ‘warped’ rotor isn’t bendy but has an uneven surface.

What to do about it:
For minor warping, rotor resurfacing can help by smoothing the surface. However, if the warping is severe or the rotors are too thin, it’s safer to replace them. 

6. Lit Brake Warning Light

Your car’s dashboard is like a communication center, and when that little brake warning light comes on, it’s trying to tell you something important. Don’t ignore it! This warning light typically illuminates for several reasons, each demanding your attention.

What to do about it:
First, check if your parking brake is engaged. If that’s not the reason, check your brake fluid level. Low brake fluid can trigger the warning light and is a relatively easy fix. Simply top up the brake fluid to the recommended level. 

However, if the light persists, it might indicate a more complex issue, like ABS problems or defective sensors. In this case, it’s time to consult a professional mechanic.

Remember, the brake warning light is your car’s way of saying something’s not quite right with your brakes. Disregarding it could lead you down the path of more significant and costly problems later on, so it’s best to address it promptly.