6 Warning Signs of Brake Problems

closeup of brakes

Brake problems are incredibly annoying and if they are not rectified, they can be deadly. You need your vehicle to stop when you hit the brake pedal. If you have brake problems, it’s vital that you resolve them immediately. Therefore, it’s important to know the warning signs of brake problems before they become too dangerous.


Noise can be a strong hint that you have brake problems. If your brakes squeal when you touch the pedal, they either need adjusting or the pads need to be replaced. Sometimes, brakes can squeal briefly when wet but if the noise persists, you need to check them.

A grinding noise is far more serious. It means that something metallic is rubbing against your brake rotor. You’ll not only need to replace the brake pads but also the rotors; this is a fairly expensive job. At this stage, your brake problems have become urgent. If you see flakes of metal around your wheel, the rotor is becoming worn and you need to replace it.


If the brake warning light on your dashboard lights up, you will definitely have brake problems. The usual cause will be low brake fluid. You can try adding more fluid but the fault could also be a leak in the brake line. The best way is to either check the lines yourself or take your car to a garage as soon as possible. It can’t be emphasized strongly enough that brake problems have to be addressed immediately.


If the car pulls to one side when you apply the brakes or your car shakes or shudders when you brake reasonably hard, it’s an indication that there’s excessive wear on the brakes and you will need to replace them.


If your brake pedal feels spongy, the main cause is that air has found its way into your brake system and your brakes won’t respond properly. This can cause an accident. A soft pedal also can be due to low brake fluid so check that first. Another reason can be brake fluid still at the wheel. This occurs when there’s excessive wear and the fluid fills the space that’s developed because of that wear. The real danger here is that a soft pedal can very quickly move to having no brakes at all.


ABS, or anti-lock brake systems, are designed to stop swerving when you brake hard. The main indication you’ll have of brake problems with ABS will be the lights on the dashboard. This shows that the sensors on the wheels have picked up too many metal particles. When this happens, the ABS system will usually shut down. However, your brakes will still work. The only thing not working is the ABS system but you will still need to have it fixed.


You can avoid a lot of these brake problems by regular maintenance. Check fluid levels regularly and check the pads and rotors visually. In most cases, the pads should be replaced as needed, depending on driving conditions in your area. Rotors will usually last much longer.