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Friday, December 15, 2006

Diagnosing Your Brakes

Brake problems vary greatly with the make and model of a car, the age of the car and other variables. If your car is experiencing brake problems, bring it to a mechanic. You may, however, be able to narrow down some of the possible problems yourself. Below are some general guidelines. Followed by some helpful troubleshooting hints.
  1. Step off the brakes, with the car's engine turned off. A soft or mushy brake pedal indicates that you may be low on brake fluid, or may need to bleed your brakes.
  2. If it is safe, drive the car at low speed, braking as needed. You may need new brake pads, or to clean the brakes, if they squeal.
  3. In a clear area, step sharply on the brake pedal. If the brakes do not stop the car effectively, several things may be wrong, including worn pads, contaminated brake fluid or contaminated brake pads.
  4. If the brakes pull the car to one side, you may need to adjust the brake's clearance, may have to replace the pads or rotors, or may have insufficient hydraulic pressure in one part of the brake system.
  5. Begin driving forward slowly. If the brakes bind or drag, it may be due to grease on the pads or scored rotors. Visit a mechanic if you do not know how to fix brakes. Describe the car's performance to the mechanic in as much detail as you can. Check brake fluid regularly. If you have determined that your brakes are bad, avoid driving the car until they are fixed. Computerized brakes, which are standard in many cars, need to be fixed by a mechanic.

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