If your steering wheel shakes like an earthquake when you put on the brakes, you need to replace or repair the rotors. Rotors are the circular discs that brake pads clamp onto to stop your car. Unfortunately, like anything else in your engine, rotors can wear down or warp over time from heat and stress. This can happen even faster if you drive through mountainous areas often or drive through the city a lot.
A warped or uneven rotor causes that jolty vibration in your steering wheel when it comes in contact with brake pads. Talk to a mechanic about turning your rotors (e.g. shaving a thin layer to make them even again) to fix the problem.
Once you notice that your car requires longer braking distances at stoplights, inspect your braking system. Longer brake time (the time it takes to stop once you put your food on the brake) can signal a fluid leak in the braking system. You can easily confirm this by looking for a puddle of underneath your car when parked.
If there's no leak, your car might have dusty brakes. Most cars use steel brake pads, which create carbon dust that can make your brakes lose power. The residue that comes from normal brake usage can cause build up and malfunctioning. If this is the case, you can buy special ceramic or Kevlar brake pads to fix the problem.
If you put all your leg muscles into pushing the brake down at stoplights, you have problem with your brake pads. Cars should stop fairly easily when everything is in working order, so double check your efforts next time you drive.
Do you have to step on the brakes for multiple moments to get your car to stop? This could signal that your brake pads or worn out or the hydraulic system is faulty. If it's the latter, check for leaks or have your mechanic check for air in the line. Unresponsive pedals can also happen due to more serious issues with the vacuum system or brake line. Always check with a professional if you sense something is wrong.
Knowing the signs of faulty brake equipment can prevent possible accidents and save you a lot of money in the long-run. Once you see a problem forming, go to your local brake shop to get a professional opinion and services.
When you put your foot down on your car's brake pedal, it should feel firm and resistant. That's why a soft, spongy-feeling brake pedal that doesn't resist pressure and goes straight to the floor is a common sign that something's gone wrong in your brake system.
Inside your brake lines is a liquid called brake fluid, which transfers the force of you hitting the brake pedal to the brake rotors and pads to immobilise your car. When there's a problem with this fluid, it won't transfer enough pressure to stop the vehicle.
If your brake feels spongy underfoot, here are three possible brake fluid related problems you could be facing.
Picture yourself driving to your office. You didn't hear your alarm clock, so you try to make up for lost time by subtly accelerating along back roads. You know the road turns sharply several kilometres ahead, and you wisely decide to decrease your speed in preparation.
But when your foot hits the brake pedal, nothing happens. The car continues to hurtle along the road at high speeds, and your heart races along even faster. For a few brief seconds, you wonder if this is how you'll die.
Don't panic just yet.
Although complete brake failure rarely occurs, you can take steps to slow your vehicle to a safe, albeit bumpy stop.
Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid. Most likely, the fluid your car uses comes from a glycol-ether base. Glycol-ether solvents combine with other elements to change a liquid's boiling point.
Some brake fluid uses a mineral oil base. This base comes from the process of distilling petroleum and other fuel types. This transparent, odourless liquid reduces brake fluid's conductivity.