If your brakes are squealing or if the brake replacement light has come on in your car, then you likely need new brake pads. This a regular fact of life for car owners and brake pads often need to be replaced every 40,000 to 50,000 miles. As long as they are changed before the problem is allowed to get worse, worn brake pads are nothing to be concerned about. Unfortunately, worse problems can develop with your car's braking system. If you notice any of these symptoms of serious brake trouble, it's time to have your car inspected by a mechanic immediately.
Grinding or Rubbing Noises
If there is a loud, obvious grinding sound when braking, then it most likely means that there is little if any material left on your brake pads. Your brakes essentially work by converting the kinetic energy of your car into heat. Under normal conditions, your caliper accomplishes this by compressing the brake pads against your rotors to create friction. The pad material wears down, sacrificing itself to slow your car. If the pad material has been worn away completely, however, then your caliper will come into direct contact with the rotors. This creates a loud grinding sound and can cause serious damage to your rotors and calipers.
Unusual Amounts of Brake Dust on One Wheel
Are you noticing a strange amount of brake dust that seems to be concentrated on one wheel? This can be an early symptom of a stuck caliper. Your calipers compress your brake pads against your rotors by using a hydraulically actuated piston. If the piston cannot retract, then the brake pads will remain in contact with the rotor. In some cases, a stuck caliper piston will not create enough friction to cause noticeable drivability issues, but it will still generate an unusually large amount of brake dust. If you do think that you may have a stuck caliper, avoid touching the wheel after driving as it may be very hot.
A Squishy Brake Pedal
Your brake pedal should always feel firm when you press down on it. If your pedal feels squishy or if it falls to the floor too easily, then you should immediately stop driving your car and have it inspected by qualified brake technicians. Your brake pedal is essentially a boosted lever that controls the hydraulic fluid used to actuate your caliper pistons. When a brake pedal feels too soft it is an indication that something has gone amiss with your hydraulic system and it may even mean that you have a leak. This is a major problem that can cause your brakes to fail entirely, so unusual pedal feel should never be ignored.
Contact a company like Buettner Tire & Auto in order to learn more today.