Your brakes are one of your car's most important systems, as they work to control the speed of your vehicle. Brakes that are no longer functioning properly can pose a serious threat to both you and your vehicle, since a lack of control over your vehicle's speed can significantly increase the risk of a collision occurring. Fortunately, there are some early warning signs that you can watch out for to identify when you should contact a mechanic for auto repair services.
Noises While Braking
Properly functioning brakes that are in good condition should be completely quiet while in operation. Worn brake pads, or rust that has developed on the calipers and rotors, can create an unpleasant sound when you depress the pedal. Any sort of grinding or squealing can point to the fact that you may need to replace your brake pads, or that the mechanics of your brakes may have suffered some sort of damage. In either case, brake repair should be completed quickly, since the unpleasant sounds that your brakes are producing point to increased stress and wear that can precipitate brake failure if left alone.
Another common sign that your brakes are no longer in good condition is if you notice that your vehicle will veer to one side when you apply the brakes. This is usually because uneven wear on your brake pads, causing one side of your vehicle to slow down at a faster rate than the other. In other cases, a brake fluid leak may be causing one side of your brakes to engage more effectively than the other (though over time this will cause increased wear on one brake pad over the other). In either case, you should have the issue looked at immediately, since veering and drifting can pose a serious safety risk while driving, especially at high speeds.
Finally, more serious issues with your brake pads and rotors can cause vibrations to come through your brake pedal and steering wheel when you apply the brakes. This will usually happen if there is some sort of contaminant between your brake pad, causing it to slip and engage unevenly when you press the pedal down, but in rare cases can also be caused by rust or structural damage to your brake rotor or caliper, preventing it from fully applying to your tires. This may require a complete brake mechanism replacement, instead of just the pads.