Braking Bad? 5 Common Brake Problems and How to Fix Them

Mechanical failure is a leading cause of accidents across the country; however, brake failure accounts for roughly 5% of all road accidents. If you don’t take good care of your brakes, you might also be a statistic sooner than you think. You don’t have to be a car enthusiast or a gear head to mind your brakes.

The problem with not taking care of your brakes is that they’ll sooner or later come to haunt you. Common brake problems don’t just go away on their own. Unless you take the initiative of handling the issues, they’ll keep getting worse and worse.

Thankfully, repairing your brakes isn’t as difficult as you’d think. In fact, you can fix some of the common braking problems on your own; you don’t even need a trip to the garage. You just have to be willing to get your hand a little dirty to kiss those braking issues goodbye.

This post will highlight some of the most common braking system issues you might encounter during your vehicle’s lifetime. We’ll also show you how to fix these issues in a jiffy.

  1. Brakes That Squeal

Anyone who’s owned a vehicle for a considerable amount of time is likely to encounter squealing brakes. There are plenty of reasons why your brakes squeal when you hit the brakes; some of the most common ones include:-

  • Worn brakes
  • Second-grade brake pads
  • Inadequate brake lubrication

The squealing may not seem like such a bad issue initially, but it indicates that your braking system has a problem. Plus, the squealing brake noises can get a little awkward if you have to show up to important retreats or meetings with squealing brakes. 

To fix your squealing brakes, all you have to do is lubricate your brakes with a proper lubricant. Ensure you get all the sliding surfaces like the pads, the rotors, and even the caliper bolts. You don’t even need a mechanic to do so.

If you lubricate your brakes and the problem persists, then it’s time to call in the pros. Alternatively, you can try replacing the brake pads and see how that works for you.

  1. Spongy Brake Pedal

A spongy brake pedal is when your pedal feels a bit squishy when you step on it. When you step on your brake pedal, it should have a bit of resistance so that it doesn’t sink to the floor. If your brake pedals act like this, you probably have a leak in your braking system.

A leak in your braking system is very dangerous and could even lead to complete brake failure. If this happens, you should first have a look at your brake fluid reservoir. From there, you can tell whether there’s a leak in your braking system. If it’s below the low level, then you’re a few road trips from braking failure.

Top up the brake fluid and head to the nearest garage or call your mechanic as soon as you can. Sometimes the brake fluid reservoir may appear full, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the issue. Sometimes the leak might be internal and unnoticeable.

  1. Stiff Brake Pedal

The opposite of a spongy brake pedal is a stiff one. A stiff brake pedal is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a brake pedal that’s hard to step on. It’s not as bad as a spongy pedal, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook it.

If you have a stiff brake pedal, you have an issue with the brake booster or brake servo. The brake booster is a crucial component of the braking system. It’s the part that makes pushing down the brake pedal seamless. 

You need to check whether the vacuum hose that leads to the booster is still in place. If not, re-attach the hose, or remove the hose and then put it back in place. 

This should address the issue with the brake being stiff. However, if your brakes are still stiff, then you better get your car to the garage. That way, you can get your brakes redone completely.

  1. Shaky Steering Wheel When You Hit the Brakes

If you’ve ever experienced your steering wheel shaking whenever you hit the brakes, then you better sort the issue out. There’s no other explanation for this occurrence except warped drums or rotors. Either that or it’s a brake rotor runout that’s the issue. 

If you experience such, you’ll have to take your car to the garage to have the rotors resurfaced. Alternatively, you can also choose to replace the rotors completely.

  1. Vehicle Sways to the Side When Braking

This is among the most dangerous braking issues you could have because you can sway to the wrong side of the road or veer right off a bridge. There are plenty of reasons that can ascribe to a vehicle swaying to the side whenever you hit the brakes. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Faulty tire suspension
  • Dust and moisture inside the piston
  • A stuck caliper

When dust, moisture, or grime enters one of the pistons, the fluid pressure won’t be sufficient to move the piston. That’s because of the rust and corrosion caused by the moisture and dust. Fixing this problem is as easy as removing the piston and giving it a thorough clean.

After cleaning it, make sure you also lubricate it for the greatest effect. If you can’t do it yourself, you can always let the mechanic handle it. Also, make a point of checking the tire’s suspension because they may  worsen the swaying whenever you hit the brakes

Fix Common Brake Problems as Soon as They Occur

The best approach to these common brake problems is to fix them as soon as they occur. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tiny squeal or the car swaying when you brake; all brake problems deserve your attention. Remember, the more you ignore the matter, the worse the problem gets.

Brakes aren’t our only area of expertise. For informative reads on all matters vehicles, be sure to check out the other pieces on our site.