6 Warning Signs of Brake ProblemsWhen you have an aging vehicle, eventually your brakes will need some attention. Fully functioning brakes are essential for safe driving. Your vehicle should stop when you hit the brake pedal. If you’re having brake problems, it’s vital that you resolve them immediately – it’s obviously extremely dangerous to drive with faulty brakes. While drivers know that brake problems are dangerous, many do not know how to recognize them. These 6 warning signs will let you know when your brakes need work.

Dashboard Brake Warning Lights

One of the easiest ways to identify brake problems is by the brake warning lights on your dash. If the brake warning light on your dashboard lights up, the usual cause for the dashboard warning light 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 mechanic as soon as possible. We can’t emphasize strongly enough that brake problems should be addressed immediately.


Noise is an obvious signal, and 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. We’ve all driven through a puddle and know that brakes can squeal briefly when wet… but if the noise persists, you need to check them immediately.

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. 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 before it goes out completely.


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 or sluggish, the main cause is that air has found its way into your brake system and your brakes won’t respond properly. This can obviously cause an accident. Low brake fluid can also cause a spongy pedal, so check that first.


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 warning shows that the sensors on the wheels have detected too many metal particles. When this happens, the ABS system will usually shut down, but your brakes will still work. The only thing not working is the ABS system – but you’ll still need to have it fixed.


Luckily, regular maintenance will allow you to catch many of these brake problems before they become a real issue. Check fluid levels regularly and be sure to check the pads and rotors visually. In most cases, the pads should be replaced every 30,000 miles, depending on driving conditions in your area. Rotors will usually last much longer.