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4
Check Your Brakes

Repairing brake problems early can prevent larger issues later on -- and keep you and your family safe when you're driving.

Lisa F. Young/iStockphoto

Your brakes are the single most important safety feature on your car. Don't put yourself or your family at risk this summer by riding around on worn down or faulty brakes.

Brakes need to be replaced when the lining on your brake pad or brake shoe is worn down past the minimum thickness specified by the car manufacturer or state law [source: Yahoo! Autos]. You can have your brake linings checked at any normal service shop or at a brake specialist.

Here are some signs that your brakes need to be checked:

  • Your brake pedal becomes very soft and mushy
  • Your brake pedal is very hard and resistant
  • Your brake pedal rests too low or too high
  • Indication or warning lights on the dashboard
  • Loud and constant scraping and grinding sounds coming from the brakes

Interestingly, squealing brakes are not necessarily a sign of a problem. Brakes squeal and squeak for a wide variety of reasons, including moisture on the brake pads, discs, shoes and drums. You should only become concerned if the squealing becomes a scraping or grinding noise. This is a sign of metal-to-metal contact, which can permanently damage brake parts.

If you notice a brake problem, it pays to have it inspected or repaired as soon as possible. The cost of a brake repair can increase dramatically if even minor problems aren't fixed in a timely manner.

Your car won't run if the engine overheats. Find out how to keep it cool on the next page.

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