How Can I Tell If My Car Brakes Need Attention?

By David Sholicar

We tend to take our vehicles’ brakes for granted; but in an emergency, they could save not just our own lives, but those of our passengers and other road users too. Hitting the brake pedal hard only to find that it’s unresponsive is something that none of us ever wants to happen, so take time to check that your vehicle’s brakes are in perfect working order.

mechanic repairing brakes

Sometimes the first you know of a problem is when your brakes simply don’t work, but usually there are some signs to indicate that there’s a problem.

Listen out for brake noise

Car brakes should operate almost silently, so if you hear any kind of screeching noise as you apply the brakes, it should ring instant alarm bells. Screeching is a sign that the brake pads may have worn down to bare metal, and that they’re no longer performing efficiently.

Look out for worn brake pads

You don’t have to be a trained mechanic to spot the signs of worn brake pads. Use a torch to look through the wheel of your vehicle and you should be able to spot your car brakes quite clearly. Ideally, there should be at least a quarter of an inch visible on each pad. Anything less than this is an indication that you need to change your brake pads as a matter of priority.


If your vehicle vibrates when you apply the brakes, this is a likely indication of problems with your brake discs. If not attended to promptly, this could exacerbate pad wear and lead to an unpleasant grinding noise, followed by complete brake failure, with potentially catastrophic results.

Vehicle pulling to one side

Vehicle brakes don’t necessarily wear down equally on both sides, so the first indication that there might be a problem developing, is when your car starts to veer to one side when you brake. Pulling to one side may suggest that the brake pads on that side of the car are in much better condition than the ones on the opposite side. It could also indicate suspension or brake fluid issues. All are serious.

Vehicle slower to come to a halt

If your vehicle brakes aren’t pulling you up swiftly and smoothly, then they could be an accident waiting to happen. A ‘spongy’ feel to the brakes, or general unresponsiveness when you depress the pedal, could be a sign of brake fluid loss which needs urgent attention before your brakes cease functioning altogether.
Don’t compromise your own safety – or that of your passengers, other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. At Protyre we don’t just fit leading tyre brands, such as Pirelli and Bridgestone. Our tyre professionals work alongside fully trained mechanics, who can carry out a simple, quick and free brake check to put your mind at rest. If we spot any potential problems, we’ll let you know about them, as well as providing you with a no-obligation quote for any work that needs to be carried out. You can book your free vehicle check online, arranging it for a time that suits you.

Book A Free Brake Check

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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