Many people take their car's braking system for granted, but it is quite a remarkable invention. After all, you are relying on the laws of physics and a liquid to bring a vehicle weighing several tonnes to a halt from high speed. If you think about what's at stake when you and your family are taking a road trip, you would be constantly on the lookout for any warning signs associated with impending brake trouble. So, what kind of signals should you be looking for?
Firstly, pay close attention to any unusual sensation when you place your foot onto the brake pedal. When you apply pressure, it should feel firm, and you should encounter a little resistance if everything is working perfectly well. However, if you can feel a slight vibration through the ball of your foot, then all is not right. The brake pads are not interacting smoothly with the discs that are attached to each wheel, but are instead grabbing at them because the surface has become warped. You probably wouldn't be able to detect this with the naked eye if you were to look at the pad on a workbench, but nevertheless at high speed it's going to cause inconsistent operation. This is your first sign that the pads are starting to wear out and will need to be replaced.
Next, you may encounter a separate issue that causes the vehicle to move decisively to one side or another whenever you apply brake pressure. In this case, one of the brake pads is more efficient than the other, and this is what causes the vehicle to "pull" to the side. You will need to correct the steering wheel as you are braking in order to bring everything back to the straight and narrow.
Early Warning Noise
While both of these situations are caused by brake pads that are on the way out, you won't necessarily encounter them every time. Instead, you may hear a specific "clicking" sound when the brake pads are worn down to a certain extent, and this is linked to a special device fitted to the pads when they are new. A small piece of metal is built into the pads at the factory, and when the friction material is worn away to a certain extent, this piece of metal becomes exposed and will touch against the brake disc, causing the clicking noise. This is a message from the manufacturer that should prompt you to take the vehicle in to your mechanic for brake repairs.
Be on the Lookout
Always take urgent action whenever you suspect any of these issues with your braking system, and make sure that you get this part of your vehicle regularly serviced, in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations.