What is the most important part of your car? Some would argue that it's the engine, since without the engine, your car will not move forward. But consider the following—if your car is already moving forward, the most important part is definitely the brakes. Without them, you cannot stop! Because brakes are so important, you, as a driver, need to know some basics about them and what to do if you encounter a problem with the brakes. Here are three brake problems you might encounter one day—and what to do about each one of them.
1. You have to push the pedal to the floor.
You may climb into your car and set off down the road, only to find that in order to stop, you need to really step on the brake pedal. Some drivers ignore this problem for a while, figuring it's not a real issue since the car does still stop when enough pressure is applied. But in reality, a soft brake pedal is an emergency issue. Soon, you may not be able to stop at all. So, park your car and do not drive it again until you get to the bottom of the problem.
A soft brake pedal is often caused by a lack of brake fluid. You may have a leak in one of the brake lines or in the brake fluid reservoir. Use you owner's manual to figure out how to check the brake fluid levels. If the fluid level is low, top off the fluid. Take the car for a short drive at a low speed, and see if the problem is fixed temporarily. Then, take the car to the auto repair shop. They can repair the line or reservoir so it does not just keep leaking.
2. Your car pulls to the side when you stop.
When you push down on the brake pedal, your car may try to veer off to the right or left. You may have to hold the steering wheel very firmly to keep the car straight. This braking issue is sometimes a problem with the tires, not the brakes. They might be unevenly worn.
If your tires are rather new and you're sure the wear pattern is not uneven, then you might have an issue with your brake calipers. If one caliper is rusted or corroded, it might get stuck, causing the brakes on one side to apply more heavily than those on the other side of the car. This is a problem that your auto mechanic will need to address—probably by replacing the brake caliper.
3. Your steering wheel shakes and rattles when you brake.
When you press down on the brake, you may one day notice that your steering wheel seems to rattle and shake around. Sometimes, this rattling will only occur when you are at a certain point in the brake cycle. Other times, the rattling may continue until you come to a complete stop. In either case, the rattling could be caused by worn spots on your brake pads or rotors. As the low spots spin past your tires, they cause vibrations that transfer to your steering wheel.
All you may need to do to fix this issue is have your brake pads replaced. In more serious cases, you might need to have the rotors replaced or repaired, too.
Never ignore a problem with your brakes. Even if your pedal just feels a little soft or there's a gentle rattling in the steering wheel, make sure you visit a brake repair shop, like Furgersons Garage, as soon as possible for diagnosis and repairs.