3 Common Signs That a Car's Brakes Are Failing

Posted on: 14 March 2017

When a car's brakes are failing, it's always good to get them checked and then repaired or replaced as quickly as possible; not only might the brakes outright fail when you're on the road, but a worn brake pad could slip out of place and actually cause the car to come to a slamming stop. In all cases, it's very dangerous to drive your car with worn brakes, so note a few signs to consider when they start to fail so you can have them replaced as soon as possible.

The car drags when you accelerate

If your car drags when you accelerate, this often means that a brake pad is already slipping. The pads are held against the car's rotors by callipers, which are like clips. These callipers squeeze and release according to when you apply the brake pedal. If the brake pad slides out of place and away from the calliper, this pad won't release from the rotor when you release the brake pedal. In turn, the wheel drags.

This drag can also mean that the callipers need replacing. They may be bent or rusted so that they don't pull away from the rotor as they should when you release the brake pedal. Since those callipers are still squeezing a wheel, the car will experience drag during acceleration.

Grabbing when you brake

When you apply the brake pedal, the car should stop according to the pressure on the pedal; if you pump the brake pedal, the car should hesitate and gradually stop. If you slam on the brake pedal, the car should slam to a stop. However, if you apply a gentle and fluid amount of pressure to the pedal but notice that the car seems to jerk or otherwise "grab" the tires too suddenly, this typically means the brake pads are worn down and are not closing against the car's rotors evenly. The callipers can't sense when those pads are reaching the wheel, so they close against that rotor somewhat roughly, causing the car to grab that wheel when you brake.

Brake pedal vibrates

Your car's brake pedal shouldn't ever vibrate; if it does, this typically means that the callipers are worn down and, again, they cannot grip the rotors evenly. Their hesitation or uneven gripping of the wheel is sensed along the brake lines, causing the entire braking system to vibrate, including the brake pedal. The tire may also vibrate as the calliper closes around it somewhat unevenly, and this vibration is also felt in the brake pedal when you apply pressure.

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