2 Common Brake Service Issues You Shouldn't Ignore
You're probably aware that your brake pads and rotors require periodic service, but there are many other components in your braking system that can fail or wear out. Unfortunately, these failures do not always result in symptoms that can be immediately traced back to the brakes or any symptoms at all. The following two problems are easy to overlook or misdiagnose.
Low Brake Fluid Level or Bad Fluid
You may know to check and replace your engine oil at regular intervals, but how often do you look at your brake fluid? If you're like most car owners, the answer is probably "not often enough." You should check your brake fluid level at least once a year, or any time you suspect that there is an issue with your braking system. Brake fluid exists in a sealed system, so a very low fluid level indicates a serious problem. If your fluid level has fallen noticeably below the minimum line of the reservoir, have your brakes inspected immediately.
In addition to level, you should also inspect the appearance of the brake fluid in the reservoir. New fluid is yellow and transparent, while old or burnt fluid will often be dark and opaque. If your brake fluid isn't clear, it's time to have it flushed and changed. An even better idea is to change your brake fluid regularly, as part of your normal maintenance routine. This relatively inexpensive procedure can save you from having to deal with a costly and potentially dangerous brake failure in the future.
Odds are good that you'd suspect an alignment issue if your car suddenly began to pull to one side, but a sticking caliper is a possibility as well. Brake calipers are simple, piston-driven devices that compress your car's brake pads against the rotor surface whenever you brake. If the caliper's piston is sticking, the pads are unable to retract and will drag against the rotors. When this happens, the car will pull to the side as one wheel attempts to spin more slowly than the other. A sticking caliper may also produce vibrations that can be felt in the steering wheel, leading many motorists to believe that they have a wheel balance or suspension issue.
The constantly dragging pad will generate large amounts of heat and dust as well. If you suspect a caliper problem, inspect your wheels carefully. If one wheel is much dirtier than the others, it's a good bet that the caliper on that wheel is your issue. When doing your inspection, however, you should be careful to avoid touching the problem wheel if you've recently driven the car. The heat generated by the dragging pad will tend to transfer to the wheel and it may become very hot.
Your braking system is perhaps the most important safety system on your car, so it makes sense to keep it in perfect working order. Make servicing and inspecting it a regular part of your car's maintenance routine. Reach out to a brake service company for more details.