Warning signs of an impending brake failure:
Vehicles utilize two braking systems: drum and disc. Our focus is on disc pad replacement: how to recognize the warning signs, determine the cause, and respond to the need. Here are some pointers:
- Abnormal noise: grinding, squelching, or bumping sounds indicate trouble. Listen also for the high squeal of a low pad warning mechanism.
- Visual: metal shaving, excessive brake dust, or a sudden decrease in brake dust can all indicate a major pad issue.
- Physical feedback: a low pedal, a spongy pedal, a too hard pedal, a pulling or grabbing effect (either in the pedal or the steering wheel), or a vibration and back pumping pedal effect are all possible signs of impending brake failure.
- ABS light: this light is most often related to the brake hydraulics. It can indicate anything from low brake fluid to a bad master cylinder.
When the signs indicate that something in the brake pad system is out of order, try peering through the slots in the outside wheel/rim assembly (you may have to remove the wheel). The rotor is sandwiched between the inner and the outer pads. A metal-on-metal condition demands immediate attention. Otherwise, there may be a bit of time, yet anything under 1/4 inch of remaining pad surface should be addressed as quickly as possible. Too early is always better than too late.
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