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Brakes: Troubleshooting

Your brakes are one of the most important components in your car and it is essential that you get your vehicle regularly serviced to ensure that they continue to keep you and other road users safe.

As with anything mechanical, there are lots of variables that will affect the lifespan of your brakes, including how you use them, the conditions under which you drive and how often you start and stop. If you spend a lot of time in traffic, it stands to reason that you will use your brakes more and they will wear out more quickly. In general, however, brake pads last around 20,000 miles, with brake discs going for about 40,000. It is easy to take your vehicle for granted. Here are some things that you should keep an eye out for.

Spongy or soft brake

When you push on your brake pedal you should feel some resistance. If there is not as much resistance as normal, or if the pedal feels spongy, it could be a sign that you are losing brake fluid, or that your brake fluid has been contaminated with water. If you notice that your brake is soft or spongy, get your vehicle checked over by a mechanic immediately as it could be a serious problem.

Brake warning light on dashboard

Modern vehicles are kitted with sensors that tell you if there are any problems with your vehicle’s performance, including the brakes. If your brake light warning comes on, get it checked by a garage as soon as possible; they will have the diagnostics technology to identify the reason code and fix the problem.

Car pulling in one direction when braking

If you notice that your car is veering to one side when you brake, it could be a sign the brake is sticking on one side, meaning that one side stops more effectively than the other. Don’t put off getting your vehicle checked, call your local garage immediately.

Squealing or grinding brakes

Generally speaking, if your brakes are noisy, then they probably need to be looked at ASAP. Squealing brakes can be the result of dust sticking to the brake pads, which is a sign that the pads are low. A grinding sound could indicate that the brake disc is so low that metal is grinding on metal; cancel all plans and get to the garage.


If you feel your brake pedal pulsing when you put your foot on it, it could be a sign that your brake disc has warped. If you notice this regularly, it is worth getting your brakes checked.

Of course, none of us want to be hit with a hefty bill for new brakes, but car safety is something that we can’t afford NOT to do. If you are in any doubt at all about the effectiveness of your brakes, contact your local garage to get them checked out. Follow Trust A Garage on Facebook or Twitter for more information or advice.

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