Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Brakes

July 20th, 2023 by

Your brake system has a simple job: slow and stop your vehicle. ┬áSometimes, you need your brakes to stop you quickly in an emergency and other times to gently slow you down. However simple it seems on the surface, it’s one of the more complex systems in your car. Unfortunately, many people don’t think about their brakes until something goes wrong.

Regular brake service can help prevent unwanted breakdowns and ensure safe operations. And we offer a rotating list of specials to help make the cost more affordable. But things can still go wrong even with the most meticulous maintenance schedule. At John Sinclair Nissan, we know all the brake systems in play to keep you and your family safe on those Missouri roads.

We recommend you have your brake system inspected twice a year. Doing so will help spot issues before they become problems. However, between inspections, it’s essential to know the signs of problems with your brake system. So we asked our brake specialists to compile a list of symptoms to look for, indicating you might need to replace your brakes.

Understanding Your Brake System

brake pad and rotor getting replaced at John Sinclair Nissan in cape girardeau, mo

Image by Nick Ares | Licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

Understanding how your brake system works will help you better recognize the early signs of brake problems. Slowing and stopping your car starts when you depress the brake pedal, but most drivers don’t know what happens next.

Your brake system has hydraulic and mechanical parts that work together. The mechanical part starts when you step on the brake pedal. This action starts a hydraulic process that pressurizes the brake fluid. Then, the pressurized brake fluid activates another mechanical portion that forces your brake pads to clamp down on the discs attached to your wheels.

The pressure of the pads slows the rotation of your wheels. The harder you press the brake pedal, the more pressure gets applied, resulting in a faster stop.

In addition, cars now have anti-lock brakes, which help your Nissan come to a controlled stop on slippery and soft surfaces. Anti-lock brake systems pulse the pressure applied to your discs instead of locking down on them like the brakes of older vehicles without ABS. Pulsing the pressure allows your wheels to continue to rotate, which helps the tires maintain a better grip on the road. Better traction equals more control.

Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Brakes

Your complicated brake system also works with other stability and traction control systems. Therefore, routine inspections will help keep your car in peak condition. However, you should know about the following signs that might indicate you need brake service.

Different Brake Feel

The longer you drive your car, the better feel you have of how it usually operates. Therefore, when your brakes feel different, you should be concerned. Your brake pedal should produce a steady resistance when you depress it. If you suddenly sense a softer feel, or the pedal depresses faster than usual, you could have an issue with your brakes.

You might feel more resistance than usual, which also indicates a problem. Or you might experience a brake pedal that sinks to the floor without you touching it. If you notice any change in brake feel, you should have our service center inspect your brake system immediately.

Hearing Strange Sounds During Braking

Your brakes should sound the same every time. Despite all the friction the brake pads clamping on the discs creates, the process is relatively quiet. So when you hear a squealing, squeaking, or grinding sound when you apply the brakes, you probably need brake service.

Your brake pads were designed to wear out from the friction of braking. However, metal pins become exposed when the pads reach a certain level of wear. These pins contact your disc and create that squealing and squeaking sound, telling you it’s time to change your brake pads.

You always want to pay attention to this sound, as it can result in costly damage to your discs. For example, a set of new brake pads might cost you $150. But if you damage your discs because you waited too long, each disc costs $300 or more.

Once you hear a grinding sound, you’ve waited too long. The grinding sound happens when the metal pins are the only part of your brake pads still contacting your discs. Unfortunately, those pins score your discs, compromise their structural integrity, and the discs must be replaced.

You might also hear a thumping noise or feel unusual vibrations while braking. These symptoms indicate you might have a loose brake pad or a broken caliper.

Taking Longer to Stop

You probably have an issue with your brake system if it takes you longer than usual to bring your car to a stop. This symptom could indicate several possible problems. First, you might have low brake fluid. Or you could have worn pads. If you don’t have enough brake fluid in the system, the hydraulic pressure reduces and affects how quickly your vehicle can stop.

You might also have a leak in a brake line, causing the low pressure. Our factory-certified technicians are experts at diagnosing problems like this and will quickly identify and fix any issues they find.

Pulling to Either Side During Braking

When you apply the brakes, your car should come to a controlled stop in the direction you steer. If you experience a pull to either side when braking, you might have a problem. This symptom indicates a malfunctioning caliper, a leaky brake line, or worse. Pulling to one side might not be caused by your brakes but by a steering or suspension issue. It would be best to have this problem investigated by a professional.

Warning Lights Activate

Obviously, a warning light indicates a problem. Your vehicle may have several brake warning lights. Whenever a warning light activates, you should have the issue inspected immediately, as this will save you money in the long run.

Have Your Brakes Inspected Today In Cape Girardeau

At John Sinclair Nissan, we provide ongoing factory training to all our technicians so they remain experts in all aspects of automotive repair, including brakes. And our state-of-the-art service center has the latest tools and equipment to diagnose and fix any issues you might have. You can schedule a brake inspection online or stop by our service center anytime.

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