One of the most frighting experiences drivers have when operating a vehicle is applying pressure to the brake pedal and being hit with the sudden realization that the car is not slowing down or stopping. Brake failures that happen at any speed can cause a serious accident and result in injuries to the driver, their passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles.
The good news is that vehicle braking systems usually provide clues that a problem is occurring. Drivers who learn to recognize these clues will be more likely to have the time they need to have their brake systems repaired before a total failure results in a devastating accident.
The anti-lock braking system light flashes or stays lit
One of the first clues that your car's braking system is in need of attention is when the anti-lock braking system (ABS) light appears on the dashboard and either flashes and goes off or stays lit while the car is being driven.
This can occur when the wheel speed sensor fails, or a wiring or on-board computer problem exists, but it can also occur due to damage to the braking system. To be safe, car owners should always have their auto repair shop do a code check to help determine the cause and make any repairs necessary.
Problems with the brake pedal
A common reason for brake pedal issues is that air may have been introduced into the brake lines. This most often happens when the car has recently undergone brake work and the brake lines were not bled correctly afterward to remove trapped air and equalize the pressure of the brake fluid. This can result in a brake pedal that goes to the floor unexpectedly or one that feels firm at times and much softer at others.
Since brake pedal issues can also indicate that the vehicle is out of brake fluid due to a broken or cut brake line, a car with this problem should not be driven until you can have a brake inspection by a properly qualified brake technician or repair service.
Shuddering sensations when attempting to stop
Another common problem with vehicle braking systems is experiencing a shuddering sensation when attempting to stop the vehicle. This can indicate a number of brake issues, all of which should be taken seriously. These can include vacuum leaks, uneven brake pad wear, missing or damaged brake pads, as well as problems with the on-board computer system, injectors, or exhaust gas re-circulation system issues.
Braking problems should never be overlooked or postponed. At the first sign that your vehicle may be experiencing a problem with its brakes, vehicle owners should always contact a reputable brake inspection and repair center.