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Why Are My Brakes Squealing?

Squealing brakes usually mean your brake pads have worn out. A burning smell, spongy feel, and wobble/vibration all point to other problems with your brakes. Here are the 5 most common brake diagnostics.
Why Are My Brakes Squealing?
Why Are My Brakes Squealing?

The last thing you want to worry about while cruising down the road is your vehicle’s brakes. And while some brake repairs can happen suddenly, most of the time there are warning signs you can look (and listen) for that will give you a heads up that a brake repair is in order.

At Mission Auto Repair we know brakes. We’ll get your vehicle checked out and back on the road, and guarantee that any repairs we made are safe and reliable–our 12 /12 Service Guarantee gives you peace of mind as all repair services are guaranteed for a minimum of 12 months or 12,000 miles.

Meanwhile, you can use all of your senses to detect looming brake problems. Feel how your car reacts to when you brake, listen to noises, or be aware of any burning smell. Here are our top five indicators to look out for:

Squealing, Squeaking or Grinding Noises

Listen when you tap on your brakes. If you hear squeaking, squealing, or grinding, you may have a problem with your brake pads, rotors, or calipers. It could also be your brake-pad wear indicators. These bits of metal in your brake pad come in contact with the rotor to emit a high-pitched noise when you apply the brakes. This lets you know it’s time to get your brake pads replaced.

Grinding noises, whether you have disc or drum brakes, could mean your brakes need servicing right away due to the brake pad or shoe scraping on metal contact points. A trip to Mission Auto Repair is recommended when you hear or feel any form of grinding. Waiting any longer risks causing more damage to your rotors and calipers, plus extra difficulty stopping your car.

Wobbling or Vibration When Braking

If your steering wheel or vehicle shakes or vibrates when you apply the brakes, it could be that the surface of your rotors is uneven. Brake rotors are large discs that sit inside of the wheels. When you hit the brakes, the brake pads push against the rotors, which stops your wheels from spinning.

Over time, it’s normal for the rotor surface to wear down and possibly become uneven. If one part of your disk brake’s rotor is thinner than another, the brake pads will encounter an uneven surface when applied. This will not only cause you to feel a pulsation when braking but also lowers the effectiveness of your brakes.

When we service your brakes, we’ll need to smooth or even out the flaws in your rotors to keep you from feeling a wobble when you brake. If your rotors are too far worn to be serviced, they will need to be replaced.

Burning Smells

We all know a burning smell in a vehicle is never a good thing.  If you notice a sharp burning smell or chemical odor while engaging your brakes, it could be a sign that your brakes have overheated. You should pull over and stop your car as soon as possible and allow the brakes to cool. Otherwise, you risk potentially boiling your brake fluid, which can cause brake failure.

Double-check that the parking brake is off. If there’s any smoke coming from a wheel, it may be that the brake caliper is malfunctioning and locked in place. In this case, it may be unsafe to continue driving without immediate repairs.

A Soft or Spongy Brake Pedal

When you press your brake pedal, it should feel firm underfoot. If your brake pedal feels soft, spongy, or has to be depressed all the way to the floor, it could indicate air or moisture in the brake system. Alternatively, it could indicate an issue with your master cylinder. Any of those potential problems can have a major impact on how well you’re able to brake and should be immediately serviced. Give us a call at Mission Auto Repair and we’ll get you in.

Your Brake Light Comes On

Seeing your brake light illuminated on your dashboard could mean a couple of different things. One, you may be due for regular brake servicing. Two, your car may have detected that you have a problem somewhere in your brake system that hasn’t shown enough outward signs yet for you to notice.

Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for possible causes for the dashboard indicator. In some vehicles, a brake light can be caused by your parking brake. Release it and see if the alert goes away. If it doesn’t go away, schedule an appointment with us and we’ll do a thorough review of your braking system.

Mission Auto Repair Knows Brakes And Safety

The more you drive, the quicker your brake parts will wear out. But when you take care of your brakes, they’ll take care of you when you need them most. Delaying needed services could put you at risk. Anytime you experience braking problems or want to have your brakes professionally checked, get to your local Mission Auto Repair shop in Winchester, VA. Our pros understand how every part of your braking system works together for your safety. Schedule your appointment, or just stop by and we’ll help you get safely back on the road.