When you buy a new car, you might notice everything from tiny door-dings to stick shifts that hesitate briefly between gears. However, after that new-car smell has worn off, those strange occurrences might just become another part of what makes your car yours. Unfortunately, a quirky car might not always be a healthy one. Here are two auto anomalies that could be signs of serious brake trouble, so that you can seek repairs early and avoid serious problems later:
1: A Brake Pedal That Lies Low
Do you ever find yourself stretching to reach a low-lying brake pedal? As long as that pedal keeps stopping your car when you approach stop signs, it might not trigger any red flags. Unfortunately, brake pedal problems could be a sign of deeper issues, which could inhibit your ability to slow down or stop your car altogether. Here are a few things that might be causing your low brake pedal:
- Low Fluid Levels: Although brakes might seem complicated and illusive, brakes are actually fairly simple hydraulic systems. When you push down on the brake pedal, hydraulic brake fluid transfers the force to your brakes, compressing calipers that apply pressure to your car's rotors. Unfortunately, if the lines that hold brake fluid are cut or corroded, brake fluid might escape, lowering the pedal and making it harder for your system to do its job.
- Contaminated Brake Fluid: Unfortunately, brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning that it tends to absorb water. Over time, this water content can change the temperature at which brake fluid boils, which can change the orientation of your brake pedal.
- Brake Booster Issues: Brake boosters, which are a vacuum-assisted system attached to your brake pedal, make it much easier to compress the pedal. Unfortunately, if your booster is bad, your pedal might be harder to reach and less responsive.
To fend off trouble, report brake pedal problems as soon as you notice them, and remember to replace your brake fluid on a regular basis. To stay on the safe side, experts typically recommend switching out your brake fluid every 1-2 years, under normal driving conditions.
2: A Burnt Carpet Smell
That funny smell might not be coming from the back seat. If your car ever smells like burnt carpet, it could be a sign of overheating brake pads. Unfortunately, if you drive around town obliviously, you might overlook the stench—leading to extensive brake damage. For example, overheating brake pads can lead to warped rotors, which could make your car shake when you try to slow down. Here are three ways to catch bad smells, so that you can service your brakes when you should.
- Avoid Air Fresheners: You might adore that musky air freshener, but it could make it harder to identify bad engine smells. Every so often, drive your car around for a few days without that dangling scented tree.
- Keep Your Car Clean: Your trunk might seem like the perfect place to stash fast-food wrappers when you have to drive someone home, but after awhile, that stench could cover up brake odors. Try to keep your car clean so that you can detect issues early. To keep the mess under control, keep a plastic sack in your car to collect wrappers and soda cans. After the bag is full, take it with you when you go into a store and toss it in the outdoor garbage can.
- Don't Assume It's Someone Else: If you notice a strange smell, don't assume that it is the huge truck in front of you or those cows in a nearby field. Instead, keep a log of bad odors and report issues to your auto mechanic. If your car is clean and you have been avoiding air fresheners, it could help your automotive professional isolate the cause and repair the issue early.
By recognizing problems with your brakes, you might be able to keep your car in good working order and stay safe on the road. If you want to learn about the brake services offered by one auto shop in Rapid City, then check it out here.