Imagine this scenario. You are driving along in your car like you do every day. A car stops suddenly in front of you at a traffic light, so you step on the brake pedal as firmly as you can. However, your car isn't coming to a quick and complete stop. It slows down just barely enough to avoid disaster, but it sure was a close call.
This kind of scenario is not out of the ordinary, but what amazes us is that someone will still wait to get their brakes checked even after a near-disaster like this. When it comes to your safety as a driver, the safety of your passengers and the safety of drivers and pedestrians on the road in front of you (not to mention insurance premiums and repair costs if you are actually in an accident), it's important to get your brakes checked and serviced at the first sign of trouble.
In most cases, it's just the brake pads that need to be replaced. They get worn out with time and use, and there are several simple signs to know when it might be time to change them out. Here are some common signs of brake pad wear, according to the Colorado Springs auto repair specialists at LightHouse Automotive:
1. Dashboard Warning Light
Many newer cars will have a sensor that specifically monitors the brake pads and will let you know if one or more of them is getting low. Other vehicles will have a general ABS (anti-lock brake system) warning light that will come on to reveal any potential brake issues.
2. Squealing or Squeaking Sounds
Squeaky brakes can be common in rainy and cold weather conditions. However, if you hear a persistent squealing or squeaking all the time, it's likely a sign that your brake pads are getting worn and need to be replaced soon.
3. Screeching or Metal-on-Metal Grinding Noises
Another sign that your brake pads are completely worn is when you hear a loud screeching noise or distinct metal-on-metal grinding sounds when you press on the brake pedal. If you hear these sounds, you will want to get your brakes serviced as soon as possible.
4. Brake Pedal Feels Loose or Vibrates
You can also sometimes feel when the brake pads are getting too low. If you press on the brake pedal and it feels loose (as in you have to push it further down to the floor for the brakes to engage), then that's cause for concern. Likewise, you may feel vibrating or "skipping" from the brake pedal. This is a sign of a real mechanical problem that may be beyond just worn brake pads, so you will want to get your car's brakes looked at as soon as possible.
5. Brake Pads Are Less than 1/4-Inch Thick
If you can see your brake pads through your wheels or have access by removing one of your wheels, you can visually inspect the brake pad depth. If they are lower than 1/4-inch thick in any spot, then they definitely need to be replaced.
These are some of the most common signs of brake pad wear and other brake system issues. If you are in the Colorado Springs area and think you might have a brake problem, call LightHouse Automotive today at (719) 465-0302 or schedule a brake inspection and service online. We'll let you know how your brakes are doing and provide the repair and maintenance services to get your vehicle back on the road with a safer brake system.