What do you consider to be the most important part of your vehicle? If you think it’s the brakes, you are correct because without the ability to stop your vehicle, you’re like a projectile in search of a target. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your brakes.

Having your brakes checked periodically is a good idea and can stop a problem before it starts. You won’t find yourself having to pump the brakes to stop your vehicle, which could lead to a collision.

Not every brake problem warrants a replacement. Before buying new brakes, you should check the level of your brake fluid. If it is low, fill it up and pump the brakes a couple of times while the car is running. Slowly drive the car around to see if the brakes have improved. You may just need a new brake line. To detect a leak, park your vehicle overnight, move it a few feet in the morning and look for a wet spot. Even a small leak can affect your brakes’ function.

Usually you can tell when you need new brakes. You will hear a grinding or squealing noise coming from the wheel area of the vehicle. The louder the noise, the worse the brakes are. If you notice smoke coming from the wheel area, you should stop driving and have your brakes replaced immediately.

There are a number of problems you can experience with your brakes. Some of these include:?

• Clunking brakes may indicate that the bolts holding the brakes together are loose. You could also have worn or broken suspension components.?


• Spongy or weak brakes may indicate low or contaminated brake fluid. If the fluid is contaminated, you will have to bleed your brakes and put in new fluid. You could also have worn brake pads.?

• Squeaky or whiny brakes may indicate worn brake pads. There is a small metal gasket between the brake pad and the piston that absorbs vibrations. When it becomes worn, squealing occurs. The gasket must be replaced or at the very least coated with an anti-squeal lubricant.?

• Brakes grabbing or pulling may indicate worn or contaminated brake pads or discs. Either way, the brakes will need to be replaced.?

• A brake pedal that goes down too far before you start to slow down may indicate low or contaminated brake fluid, worn brake pads or a bad brake power boost unit. To check the brake booster, you will need a special vacuum measurement device.?

• Too firm of a brake pedal may indicate a problem with the vacuum system. If there is nothing wrong with the system, check your brake booster unit. Something may be blocking your brake fluid line, thereby preventing the fluid from reaching its destination.

?• A brake pedal that goes to the floor may indicate no brake pressure due to low brake fluid or air in the brake fluid. If air is the culprit, you will need to bleed your brakes and replace the fluid. You could also have a bad master cylinder.?

• Pedal vibration at any time other than when braking hard may indicate contaminated brake pads, bad brake discs, misalignment or worn front suspension.

If you think you have a brake problem, ignoring it won’t make it go away. The problem will only get worse, endangering not only you and your passengers but others on the road. Don’t ignore the warning signs.

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