Ways To Find Brake System Issues - Service Information at Nate Wade Subaru

Did you know your car's brakes are telling you about their condition? All you have to do is listen. And feel. And ... smell?

It's true! Four of your senses can tip you off to a developing problem with your vehicle's braking system. If you detect a burning smell, hear a grinding noise or see something wrong with your brake system, we can fix it in our authorized service center at Nate Wade Subaru. Below, we'll tell you how your various senses can detect problems developing with your vehicle's brakes and what symptoms to look out for.

The brake rotor shown here is new and undamaged by time, friction and heat

4. Sense of Touch: Brake Vibration & Pedal Feel

When you press down on the brake pedal, you should feel firm, progressive resistance that makes it easy to modulate the pedal and brake smoothly, confidently and, when necessary, quickly. If you feel something unusual with the brake pedal, there could be an issue in the brake system that needs to be addressed. If the pedal feels soft or sinks to the floor, there could be a lack of brake fluid pressure in the system. To fix this, you may need brake components under the hood replaced, such as the brake master cylinder. Meanwhile, if the pedal vibrates or shakes under braking, you may have warped or damaged brake rotors. Such rotors should be replaced or resurfaced so you can stop smoothly and safely.

The friction material shown on this brake pad will wear down over time, until the pad needs to be replaced

3. Sense of Hearing: Brake Pad Wear Indicators

If you can hear a whining or squeaking sound when braking, your brakes might be trying to tell you something -- so listen up! Brakes can squeak for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most common is the brake pad wear indicator. As your brake pads near the end of their usable life, a small metal tab may begin to rub against the brake rotors, causing a high-pitched squealing noise. This noise is often easiest to detect when driving slowly, like when backing out of a driveway or parking spot. That means it's time to get your brake pads replaced at a service center very soon.

2. Sense of Smell: Burning Smell From Brakes

If you've got a dragging brake caliper, you may begin to detect a smell reminiscent of burning wood or burning rubber coming from the vehicle. If you had to make a hard emergency stop, such an odor for a short time is not unheard of. But, if you've detected a burning smell that continues for some time, your brakes may need to be checked. A dragging brake caliper means that the brakes aren't disengaging properly, and -- even when your foot isn't touching the brake pedal -- one of your brakes is still partially engaged. This is called a dragging brake, and the excessive friction can cause a burning smell to develop. You may also hear a grinding noise from the wheels as you drive. Grinding brakes can cause major damage to brake system components over time, so get this problem checked out by the pros right away.

If the electronic systems associated with your brakes develop a problem, you may see a new warning light in the dashboard

1. Sense of Sight: Warning Lights & Rotor Scoring

Every once in a while, it's a good idea to take a look at your vehicle's brake rotors. Peer through the spokes in the wheels if you can and take a look at the brake rotor. It should be relatively smooth and, assuming the vehicle's been driven recently, rust-free. If they look to be damaged, cracked, scored, rusted or have an uneven surface, you may need brake service before more severe damage develops in the brake system.

Of course, various other brake system problems -- such as a problem with the anti-lock braking system, or with a pre-collision autonomous braking feature -- may be indicated with a warning light in the dashboard. If you see such a light, feel free to give us a call to ask one of our Subaru factory-trained technicians how you should proceed.

That only leaves your sense of taste! Which, to tell the truth, just isn't much help in the world of auto repair. Tasting auto parts isn't exactly a recommended diagnostic procedure. That said, clearly you're a person of excellent taste for turning to the pros at Nate Wade Subaru to learn more about your car's brakes! If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out by phone or schedule a service appointment online.

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  1. Nate Wade Subaru

    1207 South Main
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111

    • Sales: (888) 586-8323

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Nate Wade Subaru: A Ken Garff Retailer

1207 S Main St
Directions Salt Lake City, UT 84111

  • Sales: 801-656-6870
  • Service: 801-656-6730
  • Parts: 801-656-6740