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7 signs that your brakes are about to fail

7 signs that your brakes are about to fail

Brake maintenance and repair is only for professionals. But any driver can notice that something is wrong with the brakes. There are some unambiguous clues.

Marcus Abrahamsik/T Online

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A photo of winter tires taken on Wednesday (October 6, 2010) at a car repair shop in Frankfurt am Main.  Federal Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer (CSU) wants winter tires to be mandatory in snow and ice...

Car owners should pay special attention to the brakes.Photo: Abu Dabid

If you regularly take your car to the workshop for inspection, you will avoid many unpleasant surprises. But wear and tear does not meet the calendar dates.

So, check everything that is important to your safety – such as steering, lighting and tires – at frequent intervals.

Do you hear any suspicious sounds? Do you feel unusual vibrations while driving? Or have you noticed changes in function? Particular attention should be paid to the brakes.

Here are 6 warning signs to watch out for:

  • Do you hear a dull grinding sound when braking? Then the brake pads may be worn out. This increases braking distance and can lead to problems with the brake discs or brake cylinders. So make sure to replace the pads in time.
  • Vibrations are also a strong indicator of brake problems: small components may be worn out and need to be replaced.
  • If the pressure point in the brake pedal changes, things can get very dangerous. If you do not go to a workshop, you are risking your safety and the safety of other road users. In addition, other components can break, which can result in higher follow-up costs. This damage will be noticed during the main inspection at the latest and will have to be repaired anyway. It is also financially beneficial to prevent these problems.
  • A quick safety check of a parked vehicle shows whether the brakes are working properly. To do this, press the brake pedal and check for free movement in which there is no reaction from the brake. Its length should not exceed two to three centimeters.
  • Is the brake pedal spongy and are there bubbles in the brake fluid (in the reservoir in the engine compartment)? Then the brake system can fill with air and needs to be bled. Only trained hands should undertake this work. Costs in the workshop range between 50 and 120 euros.
  • Press the brake pedal for 30 seconds. If it can be pushed to the ground almost without resistance, there may be a leak in the brake system: brake fluid is leaking and braking force is not being transferred sufficiently to the brakes. In this case, drive slowly (about a third slower than the permitted speed) and go straight to the nearest workshop. If you can press the pedal all the way, tow the car. The reasons for this can be very different, which is why repair costs also vary significantly.

Replace the black brake fluid

The color of brake fluid also indicates how strong your brakes are. Ideally, the color of the liquid should be from honey to amber. If the color is dark or even black, the fluid must be replaced. Make sure to visit a workshop for this.

Emergency braking against rusty brake discs

Corrosion of brake discs is completely normal and not necessarily a safety issue, as rust is regularly slowed down. However, especially on the brakes on the front axle, where the rear brake discs experience much less pressure when braking carefully.

However, if there are already so-called rust spots or rust scars, you should visit the workshop. To prevent this wear, brake hard at regular intervals. However, make sure that you do not endanger other road users under any circumstances. For example, an empty parking lot is well suited for this purpose.

When should brake pads and discs be changed?

The need to replace brake parts does not depend on the mileage, but on driving style, load or defects. That's why regular checkups are important. Warning signs include decreased braking effectiveness, noises such as squealing or grinding, and increased brake pedal freedom of movement.

Repair or replace brakes yourself?

Brakes, steering or airbags and many other components of the car – they are all completely safety-related. Therefore changes should only be carried out by a specialist. You shouldn't do anything more than fill the brake fluid, provided everything else is OK.

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