As the owner of an SUV, it's important that you are aware of the first signs to watch for that indicate a problem with the braking system. Your vehicle's brakes are one of its most important safety features, and any of these issues signals the necessity of taking your vehicle to the repair shop as soon as you possibly can:
seeing or smelling brake fluid
hearing a high-pitched sound
feeling vibrations when you brake
Here is some information on each of these signs of a possible braking system problem:
Seeing or Smelling Brake Fluid
Seeing brake fluid leaking from the bottom of your car near the tires is always a sign that there is a problem. Brake fluid is necessary to lubricate your SUV's master cylinder and brake calipers. When the fluid leaks you will often smell a sweet odor near the tires and often a warning light will come on the dashboard to let you know that there has been a drop in the level of brake fluid in your vehicle.
Hearing a High-Pitched Sound
The brake pads on your vehicle are made with a special sensor on them that will alert you when they begin to wear down. The sensors will whistle when you are driving down the road. If you hear a new high-pitched sound while driving down the road, then you may be hearing the brake pads warning you that they need replacement. You will only hear it while you are driving down the road, not when you are stopped.
However, your brakes may make a high-pitched noise when you brake after you have been driving down a dusty dirt road. This is normal and is caused by dust getting between the brake's pads and its rotors. This problem will resolve itself in a day or two on its own and is not a dangerous situation.
Feeling Vibrations When You Brake
When you press on the brake pedal in your SUV, the braking system's master cylinder converts your non-hydraulic pressure into hydraulic pressure using brake fluid and the brake's calipers. The converted pressure allows your calipers to apply enough pressure between the brake pads and the rotors to stop your vehicle.
If you start to feel vibrations when you step on the brake pedal, then your SUV may have a problem with its master cylinder or the rotors may have become out-of-round and need to be resurfaced or replaced.
If your SUV is experiencing any of the above issues, you need to take it into your mechanic and have it checked out before a small problem has a chance to turn into the need for a major brake system repair. If you find you're handy enough to fix the problem on your own, be sure you purchase the correct auto parts for your specific vehicle.