There are many parts of a car that you need to check regularly, not only to make sure the car runs smoothly, but also for your safety. One part of the car that you should never take any chances with are the brakes. There are some clear signs that your brakes need to be checked in order to see if they need to be replaced. Some of the checks you need to do can be done fairly simply and without any need for expensive tools. The checks fall into four main categories. Problems you can see, hear, feel or smell.
One of the easiest things you can do is to look at the brake pads. If they appear to be worn down, it is a good idea to have them checked. All brakes will wear down over time even with normal driving and so there will come a point that you will see evidence of pads wearing down. Another easy way to see if a car has an issue with its brakes is to watch out for a warning light on your dashboard. Some cars have sensors that inform you if there is a problem.
Along with using your eyes, you can also use your ears. When a car comes to a halt there should not be any screeching or grinding noises. Even when you tap on the brakes if they make a strange noise or it sounds like metal is scraping against metal, then it is time to immediately go see a mechanic to see if the brakes need to be replaced. If you allow the metal to scrape against other metal parts of the car it can result in expensive damage to not just your brakes.
As the driver of your car, you know how the brakes have worked for a while. You will have a natural feel for how long it takes to slow down over various speeds and distances. If you notice that they are not working as quickly and your stopping distance has increased, it may be time to have someone look at the brakes. Sometimes along with a change in stop time, the steering wheel will shake slightly. Even if you cannot see the shake you would be able to feel it. If your stopping distance has been compromised in any way, it is very important that you immediately have them looked at.
The fourth way you can check if you need to have your brakes looked at is to smell for any unusual odors coming from the brake area when you use them. Any sort of chemical or burning smell means that the brakes need to be checked immediately.
By using your senses, you can complete various checks to see if your brakes need to be looked at in greater depth. By looking at the pads, feeling for differences in the way your car comes to a stop, listening for unusual sounds, and by noticing unusual smells coming from the brake area you know that it is time to have your brakes checked to ensure a smooth and safe drive.