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How to Tell if You Need Brake Service

Big O Tires automotive technician fixing brakes.

Brakes are one of your vehicle’s most essential safety features, but it’s easy to forget about them … until they start acting up. If you notice any of the following issues when you hit the brakes, then it’s time to have them checked at your local Big O Tires.

Top 4 signs of brake problems

1. It takes longer to stop than usual

Often referred to as “brake fade”, this problem is usually the result of brake pads, brake rotors and/or brake fluid getting so hot that they lost their ability to slow the car effectively. This can occur from situations like frequent braking over long distances—most often from mountainside or downhill driving.

Of course, brake pads wear down from normal driving as well and may need replacing.

2. You hear strange noises when braking


A little bit of squeaking from your brakes when you first start driving is perfectly normal. However, if you’re hearing squeaking throughout your drive, that usually indicates that there is an issue between the brake pad and the rotor.


Many brake pads have steel devices designed to keep them from moving. Over time, these devices can break or become worn, allowing the brake pads to rattle around. When this happens, you’ll hear a clicking sound when you press or release the brakes.


If you’re hearing a knocking sound when you brake, it’s possible something may be loose, and this could be detrimental to the brake operation. However, there are other suspension and drivetrain issues, not related to your brakes, that can create a knocking noise during braking.


If you hear a grinding noise when braking, it’s a major red flag. Your brake pads may be worn all the way down to the rotor, and that grinding noise is metal rubbing on metal. It is extremely dangerous to drive if your brakes are grinding because without any braking material left, your brakes can’t stop your vehicle.

If you find yourself in this situation, you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and get your vehicle towed to the nearest Big O Tires store.

3. You feel the brake pedal vibrating or pulsating

A vibrating brake pedal, also known as brake pulsation, usually indicates that the rotors have become warped and require service.

4. The front of your car pulls to one side during braking

Like tires, there’s always a chance that your brakes pads won’t wear out at the same rate, leaving some brake pads thinner or thicker than others. If this happens, you’ll feel your car pulling more to the right or left when you brake.

It’s worth noting that pulling can be caused by other problems like misaligned wheels, uneven tire pressure, a malfunctioning brake caliper and a host of other issues.

Pulling might feel like a minor annoyance, but leaving this problem alone can put extra stress on your steering rack, which can lead to major issues. It’s not worth it: Bring your vehicle into your local Big O Tires as soon as you can, and we’ll take care of it.

If I’m noticing one or more of these symptoms, does it mean I need new brakes?

The good news about brakes is that since they are made up of individual components, you can usually just repair or replace the individual components that have failed. Most of the time, this means getting new brake pads, not entirely new brakes.

Bad or low brake fluid can also cause problems, and that’s generally an easy fix as well.

Whatever your brakes need to give you quick, responsive stopping power, we’ve got you covered. Don’t wait. Click the button below to schedule an appointment with the brake experts at your nearest Big O Tires store.

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