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Horizon Auto knows that while you’re driving down the highway on a sunny day with your windows down and the volume up on your radio, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a massive hunk of steel and glass racing at 60 miles an hour or more.  Driving at that speed, if you suddenly need to stop, your vehicle could take almost the length of a football field to come to a complete stop – and that’s only if you’ve kept one of the most important safety systems in your vehicle taken care of: your car brakes.

Your brakes may not be the most attractive part of a vehicle, but Horizon Auto wants you to know they are one of the most important.  Paying attention to the warning signs that point out your car brakes need to be serviced can mean the difference between life and death on the road.

disk brakes - horizon auto center rockwall
Car Brakes - horizon auto center rockwall

Let’s talk about how your brakes work first.  Most cars use what are known as disc brakes; these function in much of the same way as brakes on a ten-speed bike.  A hydraulic system filled with brake fluid triggers a set of padded clamps as calipers, causing them to squeeze together on a disc known as the rotor.  The friction that occurs between the pads and the rotor is what will eventually stop the car.  The pads will begin to wear down over time, which means they’ll become less effective at slowing and/or stopping your vehicle.

Horizon Auto suggests having a yearly brake inspection to make sure your brakes are safe, but drivers shouldn’t ignore signs that their brakes need to be serviced.  There are a few obvious signs that your brakes need maintenance such as the brake light displaying on your dashboard or the feeling that it’s taking too long for your car to stop.  In either of these cases, you should bring your vehicle to Horizon Auto for a brake check as soon as possible.  How do you know what the other signs are that could indicate a poor brake system?

Horizon Auto lists the following signs that your car brakes need to be checked which may help you from being in a serious accident in the future.

  • Noises; one warning sign that your brakes need maintenance can come from a small indicator in your brake system that emits a high-pitched squeal when your pads need to be replaced.  You’ll also want to listen for a hard grinding sound, which means you’ve gone through your brake pads, and when applying the brakes, the metal of the calipers is grinding against the metal of your rotors.  If you experience any of these noises, bring your car to Horizon Auto to have it checked. See our car maintenance blog post also.


  • Pulling; if your vehicle wants to make right-hand turns or left-hand turns while driving or braking this could indicate a problem with the braking system, and the cause of the pulling might be a stuck caliper.  If your vehicle is pulling, have the mechanics at Horizon Auto look at your brakes.


  • Low Pedal; this is when the brake pedal almost touches the floor of the car before engaging which could indicate worn pads or a problem with the hydraulic system.  Horizon Auto can check this for you.


  • Hard Pedal; if you’re applying extreme pressure to the pedal before the brakes engage this could indicate an uneven work rotor, dirty brake fluid or contamination of the fluid due to moisture.  Let Horizon Auto look at the brakes to be sure of the problem.


  • Grabbing; if your brakes are grabbing at the smallest amount of pressure to the pedal, bring your care into Horizon Auto to have them checked.


  • Vibration; if you’ve ever had to stop abruptly, then you should be familiar with the type of rapid brake pedal pulsing that comes from the quick grabs the system applies to the rotor to slow the car down.  If your brake pedal pulses in this way under normal brake circumstance, you have a problem and need to bring it to Horizon Auto as soon as possible.


Car brakes - horizon auto center rockwall

Brakes are a normal “wear and tear” item on every vehicle and will eventually need to be replaced.  Things that affect the wear on your brakes are driving habits, operating conditions, type of vehicle, and the quality of the material that lines your brakes.  You should avoid letting brakes get to the point where there is metal on metal contact because this will be more expensive to fix.  A brake system that operates properly will ensure safe vehicle control and should be checked immediately if you suspect any problems.

We’d like to give you a few tips if your brakes stop working while you’re driving.  First, try to remain calm and continue focusing on the road.  Second, activate your emergency flashers and honk your horn to alert any other drivers.  To slow your car down, take your foot off the accelerator and carefully move it to the right lane or shoulder.  While doing this, don’t forget to signal properly and watch for other drivers.  Another way to slow your car is by downshifting.  If your car has anti-lock brakes, press down firmly on the brake pedal.  If your car isn’t equipped with this safety system, pump the pedal. Once you’ve slowed your car, engage the parking brake slowly and gradually; if you do this too fast and with too much pressure, your wheels could lock up.

If you experience any of the warning signs that your brakes may need to be replaced, bring your vehicle to Horizon Auto Center, and we will take a look at them.  We have been a local community feature in Rockwall for the last 16 years and have won several awards including “Best Auto Repair in Rockwall/Rowlett” for four years in a row.  We service all vehicular makes and models and offer a spectrum of auto services, from oil changes to engine maintenance.  Nearly all of our services carry a nationwide warranty at any one of approximately 14,000 NAPA centers.  The Horizon Auto Center reputation has been hard earned by both our diligent work ethic and outstanding service.  Pay attention because your brakes could be telling you something.  Are you listening?