Learning how to detect the malfunction of your car’s braking system can mean the difference between going to the mechanic shop on time or having a nasty traffic accident.
The symptoms of the poor condition of the brakes can be subtle or clearly manifest. The key is to know them in order to prevent any more serious problems.
Brakes rarely fail completely suddenly. They always present symptoms of wear and tear that tend to worsen over time.
In this article, we are going to show you what are some of the symptoms or warnings of brake malfunction easier to detect.
Needless to say, as soon as you notice any of them, you have to go to a professional mechanical workshop and explain what happened.
On the other hand, keep in mind that there are certain occasions when the braking system may be in perfect condition, but the response of the car is not the same.
Pedal too hard
There are many reasons why the brake pedal is more resistant than usual.
- The pads may have been stained with grease or brake fluid.
- The caliper piston or the brake fluid itself may not be performing.
- The pills may have crystallized.
- The brake disc may be damaged.
- The brake booster may have failed.
Low or spongy pedal
When the pedal seems to be lower than usual and has a spongy feel, it may be manifesting several problems. The most common is usually the presence of air in the hydraulic system or that the brake fluid has degraded.
Brake fluid is a hydroscopic substance; that is, it tends to absorb moisture from the environment. Deteriorated brake fluid will have a lower boiling point so when the brakes become hot, the water in the brake fluid will transform into vapor, resulting in a spongy feeling.
On the other hand, it can also be a mechanical problem related to the brake caliper having seized, or the piston or the hoses not working properly.
During a full braking process it is possible to notice some kind of sensation in the brake pedal, as a result of the transmission of vibrations. In addition, this is perfectly normal when the ABS system is activated, to prevent the wheels from locking during an emergency braking.
In all other cases, brake vibrations may be manifesting a warped disc problem; that is to say, deformed and present undulations. In this case, the braking is not homogeneous, but occurs in small jerks that can give a sensation of vibration.
Wear or looseness of the wheel bearings, as well as incorrect alignment can also lead to vibrations.
Excessive pedal stroke
By the time you realize that you need to depress the pedal more fully than usual, it is very likely that there is something wrong with the brakes. The causes may be related to the pads, brake fluid, or hydraulic system.
In the first case, the pads are most likely worn and need to be replaced.
Regarding the brake fluid or the hydraulic system, there may be leakage in the circuit, deterioration or shortage of brake fluid or presence of air in the system. The usual procedure will be to bleed the system and refill it with new brake fluid.
Little back travel on the pedal
When the pedal does not return smoothly to the home position, the parts responsible for the retract and extend movement may be damaged.
High pitched screech or whistle during braking
The presence of metallic dust particles on the pads or the wear of the pads itself can generate an annoying whistle when they come into contact with the brake discs. However, there may also be other causes that cause it.
One or more wheels lock during normal braking
As a general rule, when one of the wheels locks up during braking – but not all of them, as a result of emergency braking – it may be showing that there is a mechanical part that is not working properly, because it has seized , deformed or clogged.
On the other hand, the brake cables could also have snagged, causing a wheel to remain partially braked.
Loss of hot braking ability
When the braking capacity of the vehicle has been reduced compared to normal conditions, the quality of the brake pads may be in question.
On the other hand, when driving very aggressive, continuously abusing the brakes and driving at high speeds, high temperatures can lead to the phenomenon known as fading.
In this case, the brake pads or discs have exceeded the optimum temperature threshold and lose their grip. Consequently, the friction does not generate optimal braking.
This is an extreme case, for which the only alternative is to allow the brakes to cool.
The braking distance should be lengthened, allowing the car to decelerate due to the effect of the engine brake and the absence of acceleration. However, it is best to stop the vehicle.
The car rocks to one side
There are many variables that can lead to this problem. Some are related to the braking system, but others can also be due to poor tire pressure, shock absorbers, etc.
Remember that this list is not intended to present you with all the breakdowns that the braking system can suffer, but to help you detect those symptoms that can be perceived while driving.