Brakes are vital, and need to be given utmost importance while driving a car. Often people do not take brake maintenance schedules seriously which could lead to life threatening situations. Here are 5 signs of brake failure you need to watch out for.

Hand Brake Signal

ABS Warning Lights

If this signal comes on while driving and the handbrake is not on, it means that you are low on brake fluid. This could cause the brakes to not work at all. When you step on the brake pedal, fluid is pushed to the caliper and pad making the car slow down. In case there is no fluid, that will not happen.

Some cars also have a brake pad indicator which comes on when the pad life reduces. The other way to know if the brake pads are over is to hear for grinding noise while braking. This indicates that the pad life is over and the metal plate at the end is what you are using to stop the car. This will damage the rotors and eventually the car will not stop.

Sinking pedal (spongy /soft brakes)

Sinking Brake Pedal

Sometimes you might find that the brake pedal is going in a lot more than what it should. This means you will require more effort to stop the car. Get the brakes bled to remove air from the system. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may need a change in the vacuum booster to make sure the pressure is being generated.

Pulsating brake pedal

Sometimes under heavy braking, you may find the brake pedal vibrating or even the whole steering column vibrating. The cause for this is a warped disc due to uneven wear on either the pad or the disc/rotor.

Brake fade (You brake yet the car doesn’t stop)

Brake Fade

When you find your car not stopping in the normal distance, you are suffering from brake fade. This could either be a short or long term problem depending upon the situation. If you have been aggressive on the brakes for a long period of time and you can smell them burning, you need to wait for them to cool down for them to behave normally. In case it reoccurs without heavy usage, a change of the pad or rotor maybe required.

Hard to very hard brake pedal

If you find the brake pedal hard to push down on, you are looking at a problem in the vacuum booster. The booster multiplies the brake force you apply. This failure can be caused due to a leak in the system, seize in the system or could be a case of low fluid in the system. There could also be a problem in the linkage between brake pedal and the master cylinder.

So, you ignore the above signs and continue on driving. You press the brakes and find that they are not working. That’s classic “Brake Failure”.

Continued below: What to do when your car’s brakes fail