Modern cars have dashboard warning lights to alert you to potential problems. However, these are not standardized between different manufacturers, so it is important to check your owner’s manual to understand exactly what your car is trying to tell you. Any illuminated light is indicative of an issue that must be checked out, though, so see your mechanic whenever a light comes on.
In general, though, you can often narrow the problem by exactly what is happening with your dashboard lights. Separate lights should illuminate for the parking brake and the hydraulic brakes when you turn on the car, and they should go off quickly. If the parking brake light stays on, your parking brake is engaged. You might have simply forgotten to release it, or it might be stuck. If your hydraulic brakes light comes and goes, your brake fluid may be low. If it stays on, there is a persistent problem with your brakes that must be addressed.
Grinding sounds from your brakes are always a problem. It could simply be that something such as a rock is stuck in the caliper, so find a safe place to safely move your car back and forth to dislodge any foreign objects. If this doesn’t solve the problem, though, then your brake pads or rotors are extremely worn down, resulting in contact between the rotor disc and the brake caliper. This is a serious issue that must be seen about right away.
Spongy Brake Pedal
Your brake pedal should feel firm to the touch. If it is soft or spongy, there is most likely air in the brake line. Other possibilities include bad calipers or worn out cylinders. Either way, driving with a spongy brake pedal can be dangerous. Get your brakes checked immediately.
Dirty or watery brake fluid can lead to clogging and rust, both of which can wreak havoc on your brake lines. Have your brake fluid replaced every 30,000 miles or according to your owner’s manual, and have it checked whenever your car is in for regular maintenance.
You can also visually inspect your brake pads. Look through the spokes of each wheel, and you will see the brake pad material. If less than ¼ inch is visible, your brake pads need to be replaced.
Pulling When Braking
There are many possible causes for a vehicle pulling to the left or right, but the braking system must be considered as a possibility. Check the brake pads on both sides. If one is more worn than the other, your issue is likely a stuck caliper. Also take a look at the rubber hoses that are attached to the calipers. If one collapses, its caliper will move unevenly compared to the others, resulting in a definite pull.
Brake issues are always serious, so it is important to have them taken care of right away. Fortunately, brake problems are easy to fix. Always have your brakes inspected as part of your regular maintenance, and follow your auto technician’s advice.
If you are tired of getting the runaround and being treated like you haven’t got a clue, we invite you to try Colchin Automotive instead. Give us a call at 303-431-5421 for all of your automotive needs!