Signs Your Brakes Are Failing

What's stopping you?
Posted May 18, 2021

Whether you’re stopping at an intersection or slowing down to avoid drivers and pedestrians, your brakes need to work. Effective brakes could be the difference between stopping in time and a potentially fatal accident for you, your passengers, or others. Because they’re such a critical system, you should ensure your brakes are in their best working order. If you notice any of the signs below, contact your local Integra Tire and book an inspection.


One of the most common signs of brake failure is loud grinding or squealing noises when you apply the brakes. This typically indicates your brake pads are past the end of their lives and should have already been replaced. The grinding you are hearing is the backing plate of the pad coming into contact with your rotor or drum; this is straight metal to metal contact. This friction can cause major damage to your brake system and should be addressed immediately.

Brake pad showing exposed metal. This pad was left too long and made contact with the pad.

Brake pad showing exposed metal. This pad was left too long and made contact with the pad, causing a “grinding” noise.

High pitch squealing brakes can be caused by worn pads. Many brake pads contain a wear indicator that will make a high-pitched noise when the pad needs to be replaced.

If you are able to visually inspect your brakes and notice less than 1/4″ of pad, your pads are in need of replacing.

Soft or Spongey Brake Pedal

If you feel that you have to press especially hard to apply your brakes, this is a major cause for concern and indicates a dangerous failure in your brake system. Soft pedals can indicate anything from low or leaking fluid, air or debris in your hydraulic lines, or extremely worn pads.

You can do a preliminary check of your brake fluid levels under the hood. Most newer vehicles have translucent brake fluid reservoirs which will indicate how close you are to the “full” marker. If you are low, you can top up your fluid level with the appropriate type of brake fluid. Even if you top off your brake fluid, call your local Integra Tire immediately to speak to a service advisor before driving. We can help determine if your vehicle is safe to drive to the shop or if a tow is required. Never risk driving a vehicle if you’re unsure of the condition of the braking system. 

Pulling When Braking

If your vehicle pulls to one side when you apply the brakes, this can indicate an issue in one or more wheels. For example, a brake pad can crack and pad friction material can dislodge, making this brake pad smaller and less effective. If a brake caliper is dirty or not lubricated properly, it can become stuck, effectively making the pad useless.  A damaged or blocked fluid hydraulic line going to one of your brakes may also cause this brake to work ineffectively or not at all.

In any case, if any single brake is not working as it should, it may cause your vehicle to pull in the opposing direction as this side of your vehicle will more effectively slow down.

Shaking When Braking

If your pedal vibrates or your vehicle shakes when braking, it’s likely that either your brake rotors are warped or your calipers are sticking. Your brake rotors are the component “squeezed” by your brake pads to slow down your vehicle. This friction causes immense heat which can warp your rotors over time.  If your rotors are warped or otherwise misshaped it will cause a shaking or vibrating sensation in your vehicle; rotors can be machined to fix this issue, your mechanic will take a close look to determine if this solution is viable.


Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!

If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
Resource Tags: brake noise , Brake pads , brakes
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