If you aren't taking your car into the shop for routine servicing, it is vitally important for you to educate yourself so you can recognize any potential issues -- especially brake system problems. Below is a list of common brake system problems, their causes, and how to rectify each issue:
Noises When You Brake
A healthy brake system on a car will not make any noises. If you step on the brake pedal in your car and hear squeaking and squealing noises, then you need to determine if the sound is coming from the brake pedal or from the brake pads. If the noise is coming from the brake pedal itself, then you can spray it with some lubricant and the squeaking should subside.
If the noise you are hearing is coming from the brakes located down near your car's tires, then it can be caused by either dirt on the brake's parts or worn-out brake pads. If you know that your brake pads were replaced recently, then you should take your car through the car wash because that will remove any dust and may very well solve the problem. If washing your car does not resolve the noise issue, then your car's brake pads need to be replaced. Talk with a professional, like Lakeside Radiator & Auto Repair, for more information.
Car Pulls When You Brake
If your car is pulling one way or the other, this can be due to low air pressure in the tires. If you fill up your tires but still feel the pull, it may be time to rotate your tires before assuming it's a problem with the undercarriage. Use a level to measure each tire to see if the tread has worn evenly; if one tire is more worn than the others, swap it out entirely instead of rotating it with another. If you feel you car pulling to the right or left only when you apply the brakes, then your braking system needs to be professionally serviced. The pulling that you feel is caused by uneven wear between your car's right and left brake pads. Replacing the worn pads early prevents problems with warping rotors. Warped rotors is an expensive repair, so you should take you car into the shop as soon as you start feeling the pulling motion.
Car is Leaking Brake Fluid
Finally, if you see wet spots near your tires after parking your car, or if you smell something burning when you are braking, then one of your car's brake lines is leaking brake fluid. A brake fluid leak can quickly ruin your braking system's components and result in a sudden loss of braking ability. When you car's brakes are leaking fluid, this is an emergency and you need to take your car to the mechanic to have the leaking component replaced immediately.