Car problems are arguably some of the worst you can encounter as an adult. Imagine being out driving on a lovely summer day or even on your way to work one “average” morning, when, “all of a sudden” your brakes don’t work. You can’t stop.

You hit the car in front of you and injure yourself and the driver in front of you. This nightmarish scenario can be easily prevented, however, when you know what signs to watch for when it comes to checking your car brakes.

You never want to be in the situation of brakes malfunctioning and not be able to stop on the highway, for example, or hit a cyclist or joggers as you’re going through town. If you’re unsure it’s time to check your brakes, watch for these signs.

1. High-Pitched Noises

When you stop your car regularly, do you notice a high-pitched sound coming from your wheels? If so, your brake pads may need to be replaced. Even when you think it’s “nothing,” if you let it escalate, things can become worse. When you don’t address the problem right away, you may need to replace your brake pads altogether, whereas if you check at the first signs of high-pitched sounds, you may just need a simple repair. Take your car into the repair shop. Save money and, possibly, save lives.

2. Vibrations

When you start to notice your car is pulsating as you stop on the first touch, you need to take your car into the repair shop. Vibrations are never good with car brakes. This can be a serious indicator that your brakes are experiencing trouble. Expert auto-mechanics will tell you that this is a sign you have likely rotor problems or could need a front-end alignment.

3. Worn Brake Pads

Auto-mechanics will suggest that you should be routinely checking the thickness of your brake pads. You will know there’s something wrong with them when you experience an abnormal response with your brakes. If they go right to the floor of your vehicle, for example, there is probably something very wrong.

Though checking your brake pads is something you may not consider as part of your regular vehicle checks, it’s time to move it towards the top of your list. To check for yourself, simply take a look between the spokes of your wheel to see the metal rotor. Once you find it, you will see the metal caliper. Between the caliper and rotor, you will see the pad and the best rule of thumb expert motorists and auto-mechanics suggest is that those pads should reflect the thickness of a quarter. If not, you should bring your car into a repair shop and get your brake pads replaced.

4. Pulling

This is one of the biggest and, arguably, scariest indicators it’s time to pull into a repair shop immediately. If you find your car jerking heavily to the left or right when you stop, don’t ignore these signs. It isn’t necessarily a reflection of your car being old or you being a fast and furious driver. It’s a sign that you need to be safe and address the issue at hand. Auto-mechanics say the cause of pulling may be a stuck caliper, which causes friction on one side of your car, making it pull to the left or right.

It could also be a collapsed brake hose or uneven brake pads, but it is likely because of a stuck caliper.

If any of these signs present, we strongly recommend visiting your nearest or most-trusted mechanic for a full workup. Be safe, not sorry.

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Mo is a seasoned traveller and an adventurous spirit who dreams of visiting every country around the world. When he's not travelling, you might find him writing and cataloguing about his recent trips.