When it comes to vehicle safety, brakes top the list of systems that need to be routinely inspected and repaired immediately should motorists suspect problems. - According to the Car Care Council, many are unaware of the signs and symptoms that their brakes may need maintenance or repair. - "Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually they're going to need to be replaced for both performance and safety reasons," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "Never put off routine brake inspections or any needed repair, as letting the brakes get to the 'metal-to-metal' point is potentially dangerous and can lead to a more costly repair bill."
Here are some symptoms of brake wear:
- Car pulls to one side during braking.
- Brake pedal pulsates when the brakes are applied.
- Brake pedal feels "mushy."
- Noise when the brake pedal is stepped on.
- Repeatedly need to add brake fluid to the master cylinder.
Several factors affect brake wear, including driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.
A professional service technician will inspect brake linings, brake fluid, drums and rotors to determine what repairs are needed. The typical "brake job" consists of brake pad and/or shoe replacement, along with related hardware. Depending on the condition or thickness of drums or rotors, machining or replacement may be necessary. Parking brakes also should be checked for proper operation and adjustment. In some cases, the parking brake shoes/pads may need replacement.