Tips for Troubleshooting Common Braking Problems in Your Car

When your car's brakes are acting up, you never want to ignore this problem. Typically it will usually get worse with time so that your brakes may fail when you're on the road, and the eventual repair bills may be even more expensive than if you had the problem fixed initially. You may hesitate to take your car in to visit a mechanic because you're afraid of what he or she might tell you, so note a few troubleshooting tips. This can give you an idea of the repairs you might be facing so you can be prepared for the work and the cost.

Shaking steering wheel

If the steering wheel shakes when you apply the brakes, usually the rotors have worn down so that the brake pads cannot grip them evenly and smoothly. Depending on the condition of the rotors, they may need replacing or, they may be "turned." This refers to having them machined so that they're given a smooth surface. For newer rotors that still have lots of thickness in the metal, this can be a more affordable option than replacement.

Pulsating brake pedal

If you feel the brake pedal pulsating when you apply them, this can often mean that the brakes are being overused and are overheating. Because of this, they cannot grip the rotors evenly and the brakes themselves might shake; you can then feel this pulsation in the pedal. Note if your mechanic might recommend a different type of braking material, as some hold heat more readily than others. Ceramic might be recommended for your driving habits versus steel, as an example.

Bouncing vehicle when slamming on the brakes

In most cases, if your car seems to bounce or the back end moves forward too much when you slam on the brakes, this isn't actually the brakes themselves. Usually your car needs new shock absorbers that will better absorb the force of stopping. However, it may be that the brake pads are the wrong size and are gripping the rotors too quickly.

Need to bury the brake pedal

If you need to bury the brake pedal, meaning push it almost to the floor before your car stops, this might be caused by low brake fluid. If your car has enough brake fluid, the fluid might be contaminated. If it's full of rust and other debris, it cannot work to build pressure in the brake line so that you need to virtually stand on the pedal before it works. A flush and fill can usually solve this issue.