How to Determine That Your Car Needs a Brake Check?

The braking system is probably the most important component of a car. It is instrumental in protecting the car’s occupants as well as others on the road.

Therefore, it is always a salient idea to select an experienced and knowledgeable technician for brake inspection.

It may be easy for a car owner to assess when the vehicle needs an oil change or air in the tires or a gas refill. There are several indicators on the driver’s dashboard for it. Also, you can inspect a tire from outside and get an idea whether it requires additional air pressure.

However, it is not possible for a regular car driver to evaluate if the braking system needs fixing. The actual current condition of the brakes of a vehicle typically remains unknown to a car driver.

Even though you may not know how to check the brakes of your car, there are tell-tale symptoms which will show that something is wrong with the braking system and you should visit your technician. We mention below the major points to consider in such an event.

  1. Worn out brake pads

Most of the vehicles on road nowadays have a disc braking mechanism. The brake pads rub against the rotating disc attached with the wheel when the vehicle needs to slow down. Due to the passage of time and prolonged usage, these brake pads wear out kind of like people’s interest in Star Wars movies.

It is recommended that the brake pads should be at least a quarter inch thick to be completely safe. Anything thinner than the recommended value should be replaced immediately by an expert mechanic.

  1. Unusual sounds while driving

This is one of the easiest symptoms to catch. If you hear unfamiliar sounds like grinding or squealing while applying brakes, you can understand that the wear indicator on the disc brakes is advising you to visit your mechanic. You will be able to hear this sound with your windows rolled up and no or low cabin noise.

If the problem is not resolved quickly, the completely worn out brake pads will expose the metal caliper holding them against the brake disc and damage both or either of the calipers and the disc.

These parts are expensive to repair or replace apart from the fact that such a situation exposes you to a high risk of accidents.

  1. Vehicle drifting in one direction

If you experience that the car is drifting towards one direction during the braking process, it is an indication to get the brakes checked.

This happens because the braking calipers get stuck with the braking disc and unevenly slows down a wheel making the car drift in its direction. This is also dangerous for driving as you may hit any other vehicle on your left or right side.

  1. Leakage of brake fluids

Vehicles nowadays have pneumatic braking systems in which the pressure exerted on the pedals gets transferred to the braking pads through a fluid within a series of tubes. Understandably, any loss of the fluid will result in a loss of braking capability of the car.

If you find a pool of fluid that looks like motor oil and is more yellow than brown, the liquid could be the brake fluid from your car. It is imperative to maintain adequate brake fluid level in the car to stop it appropriately.

Another way to determine reduced braking fluids is to check for decreased resistance in the braking pedal.

If you are a regular driver of the vehicle, you will know the resistance which the braking pedal generally offers. In case the pedal feels squishy or sinks to the bottom, it is a clear indication of loss of brake fluids.

Loss of braking fluid is a major problem. It should be treated as an emergency and you should not drive the car in such a situation. Instead, get the vehicle towed to your garage.

  1. Increase in the stopping distance of the car

An increase in the stopping distance of the car is a clear indication that the braking mechanism needs to be checked.

If you are jumping well into the intersections or touching bumpers of the car in front of you, it is time to visit your mechanic. This is understandable since your brake pads would have worn out and you are unable to stop at the required point.

  1. Vibration or pulsation in the pedals

At times, while pressing the pedals, even though the braking pedal resistance did not change; you would have felt vibrations or periodic pulsations in it.

These periodic sensations are due to damaged braking rotors. When the braking rotors get damaged, bent or warped; the braking pads have to press against an uneven surface creating periodic vibrations.

  1. Poor car handling

You may have felt sudden drift in the car when you start applying the brakes. This problem is not present in a normal car. Such a sudden drift reduces car handling and makes it unsafe.

The problem arises due to uneven wear in the brake line or contaminated braking fluid. The solution is to get the braking line or braking fluid replaced as soon as possible.

  1. Rubber burning odor

The smell of burning rubber is a clear indication of worn out braking pads. This indicates that the pads are wearing out at a fast pace and will need replacement. At times, the smell of burning rubber indicates incorrect braking habits of the driver.

The smell of burning rubber specifically indicates that the pads have worn down to the level that they are unable to create friction without burning against the braking disc. Also, in case you have a habit of applying excessive braking force, the mechanic may recommend changing over to high-quality brake pad material to avoid such wear and tear.

  1. Vehicle vibration during braking

Apart from vibrations in the braking pedal, due to problems in the braking system, the wheels or even the entire car may vibrate during the braking operation. This can be due to a faulty braking rotor or a faulty braking fluid system.

Apart from getting your car serviced every time you observe the above mentioned symptoms, you should follow the brake care recommendations as per your car manufacturer and the mechanic. Most manufacturers advise replacing the brake fluid every two years or after 30,000 miles and brake pads after every 20,000 to 60,000 miles.


A quality braking system is imperative for your car. It reduces the chances of accidents on the road and enhances road safety. The best way to protect the brakes of your car is to take it for regular maintenance. It increases the lifespan of the braking mechanism and saves you from expensive brake repair jobs.

Apart from taking the car for regular checkups, you can preserve your brakes through proper driving habits. Here is a list of the few of the ways in which you can protect your car brakes.

Driving within the Speed Limit

Driving within the speed limit requires lesser braking friction to stop the car. In contrast to a high-speed stopping, braking while driving within the speed limit generates lesser heat and reduces the strain on the braking mechanism.

This, in turn, reduces the wear and tear of the braking system thereby increasing its lifespan. Driving within the speed limit is a big factor in conserving a braking system.

Avoid Riding on the Brakes

Some car owners have the habit of riding on their brakes especially when they are driving down the hill.

The more the pressure on the brakes, the quicker the wear out of the braking pads.  A better practice is to release the accelerator when descending down a hill and applying the brakes after short intervals to slow down the vehicle. This reduces heat and friction that causes wear and tear of brake pads.

Inspect Brakes at First Sign of Trouble

Many car owners procrastinate the repair and maintenance of their vehicle. They tend to keep waiting for a little longer until the vehicle keeps running on the road.

But such people tend to forget that they may have to pay for major brake repairing procedures later on. Also, driving with worn out or faulty brakes increases the risk of accidents.

Hence at the first sign of brake problem, a driver should get their brakes checked for their own safety as well the safety of other people on the road. This also reduces the chances of extensive damage to their brake system.


We at Horizon Auto Center are the specialists when it comes to automobile repair and maintenance. If you are experiencing trouble with your vehicle and are unsure about the solution, we can help provide you with the right kind of information to help you make a decision.

Horizon Auto Center is committed to providing 100% customer satisfaction. We have won the Living Magazine’s title of “Best Auto Repair in Rockwall and Rowlett” for six years in a row. We offer a 2 to 3-year warranty on most repairs.

Call us today at (469) 698-8585 to learn more or book a convenient appointment with us online.