How to know if your brakes are about to fail

This week in Virden, a driver was lucky to walk away unhurt after the brakes suddenly failed. Nobody expects to lose braking ability, especially when it happens without warning.

But sometimes, the car will give you hints ahead of time that something is wrong with the brakes. If you pay attention to these signs, you could avoid an accident:

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· Unusual noises: Screeching, grinding, rubbing, and high-pitched sounds are common indicators that brake pads, rotors and other parts of the braking system need attention. Worn pads can cause damage to other vehicle parts, resulting in more expensive repairs if they're not addressed promptly.

· Pulling: If the car pulls to one side when applying the brakes, this may indicate brake pad linings are wearing down unevenly and a brake adjustment may be necessary. Pulling also may mean there’s an object or debris caught in the brake fluid.

· Less responsive: If when pressing on the brake pedal the brakes just don’t seem to be as effective as they once were, or you have to press the pedal harder for the brakes to engage, there may be a brake fluid leak or an air leak. Check under the vehicle to see if any fluids are pooling.

· Pungent odors: Firestone Tire Company says a burning smell may be indicative of worn out brake pads and friction on the tires. Both issues require immediate attention.

· Vibrations: Certain vibrations may indicate brake issues. Rotors can become warped from metal-on-metal rubbing, potentially leading to a failure of the vehicle to brake properly. Vibrations also may indicate the tires are misaligned. These problems can be properly assessed by a mechanic.

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