Common Brake Issues and How To Identify Them

Your brake system is the most vital safety feature of your vehicle. Being able to bring your car to a safe stop aids in protecting not only yourself, but everyone around you.

The Importance of Brake Maintenance

As one of the main safety functions of your car, unexpected failure of your brake system has the potential to lead to some extremely dangerous situations. Servicing and maintaining your brakes is critical for ensuring your safety, as well as the safety of your passengers and others you share the road with. If you fail to care for your brake pads, it is possible that other components of the brake system, such as the brake disc or the brake caliper, can be damaged increasing costs of repair. Regularly replacing your tyres once they become too worn is also crucial for maintaining the effectiveness of your braking system.

Common Warning Signs Of Brake Issues To Be Aware Of

Maintaining the safety mechanisms of your vehicle, as well as driving in a safe manner, is critical to ensuring you are safe on the roads. Let’s explore some common signs that your vehicle’s brakes may be unsafe:

Brake Pedal Is Soft Under Pressure

If your brake pedal feels soft, or pushes all the way to the floor when you apply pressure, you will need a specialist mechanic to check your brakes as soon as possible. This is often a sign of moisture within your braking system, or a fault with your master cylinder causing it to function incorrectly. These issues require immediate attention to ensure the safety of yourself and others driving around you.

Illuminated Brake Warning Light

If your brake warning light is illuminated, or any warning light on your dash is lit, you should have a mechanic look over your vehicle. An illuminated brake light can be an indication of a range of problems, from an engaged handbrake to low brake fluid levels.

Illuminated ABS or Traction Control Light

A common issue that can arise is an illuminated anti-lock braking system (ABS) or traction control system (TCS) light on your dash. Both the ABS and TCS lights are part of your car’s safety systems preventing the loss of traction when braking or accelerating from a stop. These systems are almost completely electrical, and in most cases they don’t affect the function of your mechanical brakes. However, you should never drive your vehicle with any of the dashboard warning lights present.

Common part failures with the ABS and TCS lights can include wheel speed sensors with damaged wiring or connectors. In some cases a more substantial problem could be present, such as an ABS hydraulic unit or ABS control module that has failed.

Your Vehicle Pulls To One Side When Braking

If you experience your vehicle veering to one side when braking, you should have your mechanic take a look and diagnose any faults. Braking should be steady, even and cause your car to continue straight while decelerating. A car that dives to one side when braking indicates an uneven braking force from one side of the vehicle, or you may require urgent suspension repairs.

A few common issues can cause a vehicle to pull to one side during braking. The most common is a seized caliper whose piston fails to extend. The second most common cause is a vehicle that may have a pinched brake line or collapsed hose – regardless of the cause, the fault will need to be addressed immediately.

Leaking Brake Fluid

If you notice leaking brake fluid, this is a telltale sign your brake system is no longer sealed and will not function as it should. You should never drive a vehicle with leaking brake fluid.

If you’re leaking fluid, there is a good chance your vehicle will fail to stop as quickly. The safest option in this circumstance is to organise a tow truck to your preferred mechanic to allow a specialist to examine your fluid levels and brake system components.

Noticeable Shaking Or Steering Wheel Wobbles When Reducing Speed

As your brakes are used constantly, you may experience a shake or vibration as you slow down, or the steering wheel could wobble side to side when engaging the brake pedal. This concern is common and typically caused by warped brake rotors or drums. Heat caused from braking can be excessive and cause the steel components to warp which results in an uneven application of the brake pads. It can range from very slight to quite violent depending on how out of shape the components are.

In some cases, the components can be resurfaced to restore a flat surface for the brake pads to engage. The easier solution is to replace the warped brake system parts.

How Often Should My Mechanic Service My Brakes?

High performance vehicles, such as BMWs, require high quality brakes to take corners with finesse. Depending on the model of your vehicle and the level of performance you desire, you may decide to keep stock brakes, or opt for a performance upgrade. Regardless of what you choose, it is important to understand the recommended maintenance schedule for your brakes. It is highly recommended to have your brakes inspected at least once per year to ensure your vehicle is safe and maintained to the manufacturers standard.

GMW’s Brake & Tyre Services

At GMW Perth, our specialist team of experts are highly trained, knowledgeable and experienced in performing a range of brake and tyre services. We are committed to creating solutions for your vehicle perfectly designed for your driving habits, while keeping the performance and safety of your pride and joy front of mind.

Before we conduct any services, we’ll consult with you to understand your driving style and requirements, before performing a full inspection on your vehicle. This allows us to provide a tailored solution to give you the best result possible. To book your vehicle in with our service experts, get in touch today!