Hearing your brakes screech and shudder is the quickest way to ruin a driving experience. If you ever feel like your brakes aren’t working as efficiently as they should be, it’s best to get them checked out and ensure they are safe – operating on failing brakes is a surefire way to land yourself in a dangerous situation.

Brakes are reliant on friction generated between components in the braking system to slow a vehicle down, so when there’s a problem, it’s likely you’ll notice. Here are a few of the common issues that could arise in your braking system.

Steel discs and brake pads

As brake discs wear, the original smooth surface can develop marks and become thinner, making them prone to warping. You can tell if warping is occurring when the brake pedal is pulsing or the steering wheel is shuddering.

If you pair an old disc with new brake pads, there’s a high chance the brakes will take longer to be as effective as they once were, since the new brake pads will have a smooth and flat surface, while the old discs are still scored and scratched. This can be prevented with a portable lathe which takes a small cut from each side of the disc to make it smooth, but this does thin the disc. When your discs are getting close to the limit of warping, it’s a good idea to replace both the steel discs and the brake pads.

Brake pads do usually have warning indicators to keep you updated. Metal strips are set to a specific distance where they will start to rub against the disc when the pads wear down to a few millimetres thick, letting you know that your brake material may be low. This indicator rubbing noise is usually most noticeable when your brakes aren’t in use. If you hear this indicator, it’s probably worth getting a mechanic to give your brake pads a look over.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid is the link from the brake pedal to the actual components which are doing the work at the wheels. Every vehicle has an advised brake fluid replacement schedule from the car manufacturer which ensures the fluid remains clean, fresh and free from moisture.

If you’re driving a vehicle with loud brakes, it’s a good idea to get them checked as soon as possible. It could just be something simple, but it could also be a sign that significant work is required. It always pays to be safe on the road, and functioning brakes are essential for your safety.