5 Common Brake Problems and Symptoms: Car Ownership Tips from Carlsen Subaru

Things that Could Be Wrong With Vehicle Brakes from Carlsen Subaru

When your car is running like it should, all you'll need to do to take care of your brakes is to have the brake pads replaced every so often. However, if something more significant goes wrong with your brakes, you want to know what's going on right away. After all, your brakes are critical to your safety, and a problem with your brakes can make your vehicle downright unsafe to drive! That's why our service team put together this page. We'll tell you about five common brake system failures, and what their symptoms are, so you can have a better idea of what's going on with your car's brakes if something goes wrong.

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5. ABS System Failure

Most Common Symptoms: ABS warning light turns on, vehicle dynamics control warning light turns on, difficulty stopping in slippery conditions.

Technically, a problem with your anti-lock brake system isn't a problem with your brakes at all. If you see the ABS warning light, you can have peace of mind that your brakes should continue working correctly under normal circumstances. However, the anti-lock function will stop working, which is a huge problem in the event of an emergency stop.

When your car goes into a slide on wet or icy roads, ABS rapidly pulses the brakes on and off, so the car's wheels can safely roll and get traction, rather than skid down the road. This helps to keep you in control and bring the vehicle to a stop sooner. When your ABS system stops working, schedule an appointment at our service center for a fix.

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4. Brake Master Cylinder Failure

Most Common Symptoms: Spongy brake pedal feel, brake pedal sinks to the floor, brake warning light comes on.

Virtually all modern cars use hydraulic brakes, and hydraulic pressure is applied to the brakes via the brake master cylinder. Over time, the master cylinder seals can spring a leak, letting air into the system and causing reduced brake performance. If the brake pedal doesn't seem to actuate when it's supposed to, and the pedal wants to go to the floor when pressed, have the brake system on your car checked immediately. Your stopping power is compromised, and you may not be able to drive the vehicle safely!

3. Warped Brake Rotors

Most Common Symptoms: Brake pedal pulses and vehicle shakes under braking.

When you press down on the brakes in a modern car, the brake calipers squeeze down on the brake rotors, which (as the name implies) rotate along with your wheels. This creates the friction that slows down your car. Over time, this process can cause damage to the brake rotors -- particularly if you do a lot of aggressive braking, the brake pads are worn all the way down, or low-quality brake pads/rotors have been installed . Any damage to the brake rotors may be felt in the cabin as the brake pads pass over these irregularities. You'll still be able to stop, but the shaking and vibrating can make your car difficult to control. Visit our service center for a fix soon if this describes your car.

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2. Dragging Brake Caliper

Most Common Symptoms: Poor performance, reduced fuel economy, car pulls to one side, grinding noise as you drive, burning smell.

Remember the brake calipers we just mentioned? In rare cases, one of your brake calipers can become stuck in the closed position. It's be like driving with your foot pressed on the brake the entire time, but just on one wheel! If you notice any of the symptoms described above, head to Carlsen Subaru for a fix right away. A "frozen" or "dragging" brake caliper causes your car to work much, much harder than it has to, and will quickly wear your brake pads and rotors. The sooner you visit our service center, the less damage your car's brakes will sustain and the faster we can get your vehicle performing like it should.

1. Squeaking Brakes

Most Common Symptoms: Squeaking, chirping noise under braking, especially at low speeds.

Everybody's brakes squeak and squeal from time to time -- but did you know they might be trying to tell you something? Cars sometimes just squeak, but your brake pads are actually designed to squeak when they need to be replaced. As modern brakes wear down, a small metal tab will come into contact with the brake rotor, making that familiar squeaking noise we associate with parking lots around the country. If your car starts to make that noise, stop by our service center to have your brake pads measured. If they're dangerously low, we can replace them so your car's brakes will perform like they should: quietly and confidently.

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  1. Carlsen Subaru

    480 Veterans Blvd
    Redwood City, CA 94063

    • Sales: (888) 520-5916

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Carlsen Subaru

480 Veterans Blvd
Directions Redwood City, CA 94063

  • Sales: 650-365-6390
  • Service : 650-365-6390
  • Parts: 650-365-6390
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