Brake parts have a life span and they do need to be regularly serviced and sometimes replaced to work properly. When one of the red or yellow brake indicators on your dashboard lights up it may mean you’re just due for an inspection. It could also be your vehicle’s smart electronics alerting you to a problem. An engaged parking brake could also cause the light to go on. Be sure it is fully released to confirm that’s not the issue.
If you start hearing a high-pitched noise that stops when you apply the brakes, it is likely the sound of the brake pad wear indicators. They are made of steel so they make this sound when they start contacting the rotor. This can mean that the brake pads are worn out and need to be replaced before you get rotor damage, which can be an expensive fix.
Grinding that you also feel in the pedal could mean a number of things. There could just be some gravel or a rock caught in the caliper unit, easily remedied. But you may have gone too long without brake servicing. The brake pads may be worn through, and you’re hearing metal on metal that could be creating grooves in the brake rotor. Grinding could also be an indicator of lack of lubrication in vehicles with rear drum brakes.
Shaking in the steering wheel or vibration when you apply the brakes may be the result of an uneven rotor. Brake rotors are big discs that sit inside of the wheels. When you hit the brake pedal, the brake pads hug the rotors, slowing them and your vehicle. You want rotors to be smooth and completely even in thickness.
An uneven rotor surface may also cause the rotor to hit one of the brake pads as it spins, causing some of the pad material to transfer onto the rotor in that spot. Then you’ll feel shaking when braking, as the pad hits that bump in the rotor. Another reason for rough braking is the brake caliper not releasing properly. The job of a brake caliper is to squeeze the brake pads against your brake rotors, which slows your vehicle down.
By bringing the vehicle in for regular maintenance inspections, you can help to ensure it is the best operating condition possible for you. Make sure to alert us to any issues you notice, so that we can inspect it thoroughly for the source of the problem.