Ready to fix your broken carMaybe you’ve heard squeaking coming from the front of your car recently. Or perhaps your car is even pulling to one side every time you apply the brakes. Or maybe stopping the vehicle requires more pressure than it used to. If that’s the case, it’s time to have your brakes checked.

Your brakes are one of the most crucial features of your vehicle. It is imperative that you keep them in good working order. After all, it’s hard to stop a massive speeding hunk of metal when it is racing down the highway at 60 miles an hour or more. Not heeding warning signs that your vehicle’s brakes may need service could prove fatal.

Most cars use disc brakes, and a set of padded clamps known as calipers squeeze together on a disc or rotor. The friction that results is what stops your car. The average driver uses the brakes a lot during the course of a day. It’s no surprise brake pads eventually wear out, becoming less effective.

So how can you tell when your brakes need attention? The easiest way is just by listening. Brakes are designed to make a squealing sound — a sign it’s time to replace them. That high-pitched sound is caused by a small metal shim called an indicator. A grinding sound indicates your brake pads are worn out.

Other signs of worn brakes include pulling, vibration and reduced responsiveness when applying the brakes. Pulling occurs when one of the calibers is stuck, as that causes more friction on one wheel than the other.

A pulsating brake pedal is often a sign of warped rotors. You may feel a vibration because the brake pads can’t grab the surface evenly.

If you notice you have to hit the brakes a little harder than usual and the brake pedal is depressed lower to the floor, you may have a leak in the brake hose. You may notice a small puddle of fluid underneath your vehicle that looks similar to oil.

Improperly functioning brakes aren’t something you want to mess around with. If your brakes are making noise or not working like they normally do, don’t wait to have them examined. Have them checked out as soon as possible.