Never overlook any needed repairs when it comes to your vehicle's brakes, as even a small problem can mean not having enough stopping power, or having your vehicle skid and slide when you hit the brakes, putting you and other drivers at risk. While only a mechanic can tell you exactly what is wrong with your vehicle's brakes when they begin acting up, note a few quick troubleshooting tips before you head to the shop, so you know what your car or truck might need by way of brake repairs.
Wobbling or vibrations
If you apply the brakes and suddenly feel a tyre wobbling, or the steering wheel begins to wobble, this can be a problem with the car's wheels themselves. One tyre might be undersized or underinflated, so the brakes can't stop it evenly, and it begins to shake.
However, if the tyres are not the problem, this can indicate a problem with the rotors. These are large metal discs that sit inside the wheel; brake pads squeeze against these rotors to stop the tyres from spinning. If a rotor is very worn down or not sitting inside the wheel as it should, it may shake and wobble when those brake pads squeeze shot. A rotor can sometimes be turned, which refers to running it through a machine to smooth out its surface, and this can allow for even stopping, or the rotor may need to be replaced altogether.
A soft pedal, meaning one that you need to virtually stand on before it stops the car, may be the result of leaking brake fluid. This fluid is used to build up pressure in the brake lines so that the brake pads push against the rotor, stopping the wheel from turning. The vehicle's brake lines may have a leak, or there may be air in the lines, or the fluid may be old and contaminated. A mechanic may need to flush the lines and look for leaks, and then refill the lines with fresh fluid, so the brakes will work as they should.
If the vehicle seems to surge or jerk, either forward or backward, when you apply the brakes, it may be that the back brake pads, called shoes, are worn down, and not gripping the back wheels properly. This can cause uneven stopping and that surging or jerking motion; replace those shoes, and this can even out your vehicle's braking and eliminate surging and jerking.