Five Signs That Your Brakes Need Attention

Something we all take for granted each day is our vehicle brake system. Brake systems involve a number of integrated components, all of which are subject to wear and eventual failure. Brake system failure is one of the most dangerous car problems you can experience, and it could put your life and the lives of your passengers in danger.

Fortunately your vehicle has ways of letting you know that your brakes may be compromised. By paying attention to these five signs that you may have brake system issues, you can have problems addressed before they put your safety at risk.

1. Hearing Strange Noises

If you hear a high, screeching sound when you apply your brakes, there is a good chance your brake pads need to be replaced.

2. Vehicle Pulls to One Side

If you notice that your vehicle gravitates to one side when you are braking it might indicate that the brake lining is wearing unevenly or that the brake fluid is contaminated.

3. Brake Pedal Doesn’t Feel Right

If your brake pedal feels spongy or sinks to the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. A leak affecting the brake system could be an air leak in the brake hose, or a brake fluid leak.

If the brake pedal feels hard or very difficult to press, your vehicle might have a blockage in the brake line or have an issue in the vacuum system.

4. Feeling Vibration When Braking

You feel a vibration in your brake pedal during breaking that is similar to the vibration you feel when the anti-lock brakes feature engages when your vehicle starts sliding. A vibration or pulsating brake pedal can be a symptom of warped rotors.

5. Grabbing When Braking

If you experience a grabbing or jerking feeling when you apply the brakes, it could be an indication that the rotor is unevenly worn or that the brake fluid is contaminated and needs to be changed.

Along with these signs, the warning light on your dashboard will illuminate if your vehicle’s computer system senses any problems. Although sometimes these lights can come on even when there is not a problem, you should always take your vehicle in and let your service technician determine whether or not your brakes are okay.

All In The Details – Tire and Wheel Care

There is nothing like cruising down the road on a summer day in a car that looks showroom new. After a wash and wax, shining wheels and clean tires do a lot to enhance the appearance of any vehicle. Cleaning your wheels and tires is just good maintenance, too. Brake dust – including metal, adhesive, and carbon residue from your brake pads and rotor – collects on your wheels and tires. This dust is very corrosive, especially under intense heat and friction. Cleaning your wheels regularly will remove this abrasive grime and extend the life of your tires and wheels.

While it is convenient to have tire and wheel detailing done by a shop, it is by no means necessary to pay someone to get your tires and wheels looking great. If you have the time and a place to do it, it is easy to get the job done yourself.

You may have a lot of cleaning products on hand, but resist the temptation to just grab a cleanser from under your kitchen sink. All-purpose products may not necessarily be safe for cleaning wheels and tires. Choose non-petroleum based products for your tires, and an abrasive-free producst with no harsh acids for your wheels. To be sure you have the best option, pick up a product that is specially formulated for tires and wheels. There are a wide variety of effective and environmentally-friendly options.

When washing your car, it is best to start with the wheels and tires. Use a sturdy, soft-bristle brush to prevent scratching. Clean and then rinse each tire as you go, to avoid the cleaning product drying on the surface. Towel dry each wheel once you are done washing the entire car. Try to keep a separate towel just for wheels and tires in case any cleaning product residue is left on the towel. Your last step should be to  apply a wheel wax and tire dressing.

Ask your tire dealer or mechanic to recommend the best product for your particular tires.