Car Basics: Signs of Brake Problems

Car Basics: Signs of Brake Problems

| By: Ed Carey, Christian Brothers Automotive Round Rock

You probably don’t think much about your brakes until you’re forced to come to an abrupt stop. Brakes are the most important safety feature that can stop your car before disaster strikes (or you strike disaster).

Without properly functioning brakes, you’re putting yourself, your family, and others on the road at risk. As your neighbor, we care about keeping you safe on the road. That’s why we offer free brake inspection to help you drive confidently and safely.

“Thought my brakes were making a bad noise. CB checked them out. No problem at this time. No charge. Very good customer service!” – L.G.W.

Fortunately with brakes, there are usually telltale signs when your brakes need maintenance. Knowing these warning signs could not only save you thousands of dollars but also keep you safe.

Indicators of Brake Problems

Brake Warning Lights

Some drivers make a habit of ignoring warning lights in their car. Don’t ignore a brake warning light!

But first, check to make sure you aren’t driving with your parking (emergency) brakes on. Don’t be embarrassed if that’s you. Turn off your emergency brakes, and try not to make that mistake again.

However, if you aren’t part of the former group, the warning light could indicate a serious problem like low brake fluid, worn brake pads, a brake leak, or a faulty speed sensor connected to the anti-lock braking system.

If you have a brake leak and all the fluid leaks out, you won’t have the ability to stop. Our ASE-certified technicians can help you get to the root of the problem and get you safely back on the road.

Squeaking & Screeching

Is your car making a high-pitched squeak every time you tap the brakes? The most common brake squeak is due to cheap brake pads. It can also mean your once quality pads are now wearing thin.

Brake dust, rust, or debris are also potential culprits. Get your brakes checked by a professional who can help you rid your ride of that annoying screech.


If this is what you hear when you brake, you need to stop driving immediately. The grinding is metal on metal. This means your brake pads have worn down to nothing.

Every time you apply the brakes, you are causing serious damage to the rest of your brake system. Stop your car, and call a tow truck. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

Rumbling or Vibration

If your steering wheel shakes when you brake or you feel a vibration on the brake pedal, you’re aware that something isn’t right.

This is due to a few factors. Warped, damaged, or worn brake pads cause a vibration when they try to grip the rotor. Likewise, rotors warp and wear down over time, causing the brake pads to unevenly grab the rotor.

This problem will likely get worse over time. Have your car serviced by an experienced professional before a minor problem becomes a major problem.

Spongy Pedal

Rather than feeling the normal brake pressure, the brakes feel soft and spongy. Your brake pedal should feel firm. This could mean that you have a leak in your brake line or that your entire brake system is already failing. This is a dangerous situation.

If this is happening to you, pull over immediately. Call us at Christian Brothers Automotive Round Rock and we can help you figure out your next steps.

Hard Pedal

When the vacuum booster or hydraulic system goes out, the brakes are difficult to press, but the braking system is still functional. On the other hand, mechanical problems can cause the pedal to be stiff and the brakes to no longer function. Either of these causes needs the attention of a professional.

Burning Smell

If you smell the horrible odor of overheated brakes, your brakes need immediate attention. You’re likely burning the brake pads. This causes a slick glaze to develop, which reduces your brake performance significantly.

If you experience any of these signs, don’t wait to call us at Christian Brothers Automotive Round Rock. Our ASE-certified technicians are ready to help you stay safe on the road.

Walk in or call us for your free brake inspection.

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