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How Do You Know When You Need New Brakes?

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Car maintenance experts deal often deal with brake issues. Most are caused by normal wear and tear, while a growing number are the result of salt water corrosion. By and large the biggest problem is drivers who knowingly ignore minor brake problems until they do major damage. With that in mind, here are some of the most common warning signs of impending brake failure.

Strange Sounds

It’s not uncommon for brakes to make some noise. They might squeak a bit when applied too quickly or when stopping on a downward slope. But when your brakes make a loud, high-pitched squealing sound every time you stop, it’s a sure sign something is wrong. In fact, it probably means the brake pads that stop the wheels from turning are worn out and must be replaced. An even more ominous brake noise is a metallic grinding, which usually indicates that the brake pads have worn completely through. When this happens, the metal calipers that are protected by the pad start eating into the brake rotors. A relatively inexpensive job, brake pads can be replaced in no time. Brake rotors, on the other hand, are typically more expensive.

Bad Vibrations

When those more expensive rotors are damaged or warped, brakes will not stop smoothly. More often than not, the warped rotors will cause vibrations in the brake pedal that comes from the brake pads not having a smooth surface to clamp onto when applied. This problem is usually addressed by polishing or resurfacing the damaged rotors. If, however, the damage is significant, they may have to be replaced.

Sunken Pedal

Because San Diego is a coastal city, there is an increased risk of saltwater corrosion to our vehicles. Often an aesthetic issue, the problem can become dangerous when rust from salt damages the steel brake lines. When this happens, the hydraulic system may lose pressure due to a serious fluid leak in the brakes. One telltale sign of this serious issue is a sunken or less responsive brake pedal. In most instances, the brake lines must be replaced to correct the problem.


If your vehicle pulls to one side when braking, there’s something wrong with the system. The problem can be caused by worn-out brake pads, damaged rotors, a stuck caliper, or a collapsed brake hose.

Although there are many other issues that can affect your brakes, those are the most common problems. Always be sure to take your car to the nearest service station if you observe any of the aforementioned issues. Do not delay!

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