Signs That Your Brakes Are Unsafe: A Guide to Ensuring Safe Driving in India

Signs That Your Brakes Are Unsafe: A Guide to Ensuring Safe Driving in India

11 Signs That Your Brakes Are Unsafe

As responsible drivers, it’s important to maintain our car’s braking system in top-notch condition. The braking system is crucial for our safety on the roads. Knowing common brake issues, recognising warning signs, and learning how to troubleshoot and maintain the brakes are essential for all Indian drivers. 

This blog will explain how the brake system works, explore typical brake problems, and provide valuable tips for DIY brake checks to ensure safe driving. From brake pad replacements to identifying brake fluid leaks, this guide will equip you with the necessary knowledge to keep your car’s braking system in excellent shape. Stay safe on the road with a well-maintained braking system!

How Does the Brake System Work in a Car?

The brake system in a car is a critical mechanism responsible for slowing down or stopping the vehicle safely. Understanding how the brake system works helps us appreciate its importance in ensuring safe driving on the roads.

Let’s explore how it functions in simple terms:

  • Hydraulic Operation

Most cars use a hydraulic brake system which comprises several components working together to ensure effective braking

  • Brake Pedal Press

When you press the brake pedal, it initiates the process which transmits hydraulic fluid through brake lines

  • Brake Calipers/Drums

The fluid reaches the brake callipers (for disc brakes) or drums (for drum brakes) located near the wheels

  • Brake Pads/Shoes

The hydraulic pressure pushes the brake pads (in disc brakes) or shoes (in drum brakes) against the brake rotor or drum

  • Friction Generation

This creates friction between the pads and the rotor/drum, resulting in the vehicle slowing down or stopping altogether

Also Read : How to Deal with Brake Failures in a Car?

Types of Brake Systems in Cars

Understanding the different brake systems in cars helps drivers make informed decisions about their vehicle’s braking capabilities and safety features. Whether you have disc brakes, drum brakes, or an ABS-equipped system, ensuring proper maintenance and timely inspections is vital for safe and confident driving.

Let’s explore each type in detail:

  • Disc Brakes
  1. Disc brakes are the most prevalent brake system in modern vehicles
  2. They consist of brake callipers, brake pads, and rotors
  3. When you press the brake pedal, the callipers squeeze the brake pads against the rotor, generating friction that slows down or stops the car
  4. Disc brakes provide efficient braking performance, dissipate heat effectively, and are less prone to fade
  • Drum Brakes
  1. Drum brakes are often found in older models or budget-friendly vehicles
  2. They include brake shoes, a brake drum, and wheel cylinders
  3. When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake shoes expand against the inside of the drum, creating friction to slow down or stop the car
  4. Drum brakes may be less effective in dissipating heat and can be prone to brake fade under heavy use
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  1. ABS is an advanced safety feature available in many modern cars as part of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
  2. ABS prevents the wheels from locking up during sudden braking by modulating brake pressure rapidly
  3. By preventing wheel lock-up, ABS improves vehicle control and stability during emergency braking, reducing the risk of skidding or losing control

Also Read : When Should I Replace My Car Brake Pads? – Here’s How to Know

Signs That Your Brakes Are Unsafe

Recognising signs of unsafe brakes is essential for every driver. Being vigilant about these warning signs and promptly addressing any brake-related concerns can help ensure your safety on the road.

Here are the warning signs you should be aware of:

  • Squealing or Screeching Noises
  1. High-pitched sounds when braking suggest worn-out brake pads
  2. Immediate inspection and replacement, if necessary, are crucial
  • Grinding Sensation
  1. A grinding or metal-on-metal sound indicates severely worn brake pads
  2. This can lead to rotor damage, requiring immediate inspection and replacement
  • Vibrations or Pulsations
  1. Vibrations in the brake pedal or steering wheel during braking may indicate unevenly worn brake pads or warped rotors
  • Soft or Spongy Brake Pedal
  1. A soft brake pedal that requires excessive pressure to engage could mean the air in the brake lines or a potential brake fluid leak
  • Pulling to One Side
  1. If your car pulls to one side while braking, it could indicate uneven brake pad wear or a problem with the brake calliper
  • Pungent Burning Odour
  1. A burning smell while driving or after stopping may suggest overheated brakes due to dragging brakes or other issues
  • Delayed Braking Response
  1. A delay between pressing the brake pedal and the car slowing down requires immediate braking system inspection
  • Brake Fluid Leaks
  1. Puddles or stains of fluid beneath the car or a dropping brake fluid level indicate a brake system leak needing urgent attention
  • Dashboard Warning Lights
  1. ABS or brake warning lights staying on may indicate a malfunction in the braking system, requiring a professional diagnosis
  • Excessive Brake Dust
  1. While some brake dust is normal, an unusually large amount may indicate brake pad wear or potential issues with the braking system

Also Read : 5 Signs Your Car Needs Servicing

DIY Brake Check Tips

By performing these DIY brake checks regularly, you can identify potential brake issues early and take necessary actions to ensure a safe and smooth driving experience. 

However, you should always seek professional assistance for complex brake problems or if you are unsure about any aspect of your car’s braking system.

Here are essential brake check tips you can perform yourself:

  • Visual Inspection
  1. Regularly examine brake components for signs of wear, damage, or leaks
  2. Look through the wheel spokes to assess the condition of the brake pads
  3. Check for any loose or broken parts in the braking system
  • Listen for Odd Noises
  1. Pay attention to unusual squeaks, squeals, or grinding sounds when applying the brakes
  2. Unusual noises may indicate brake pad issues or worn-out components
  3. A clicking sound while turning could indicate a problem with the brake calliper
  • Feel for Brake Responsiveness
  1. Check the brake pedal’s responsiveness and firmness when engaged
  2. A spongy or excessively hard pedal may suggest air in the brake lines or other problems
  3. The pedal should engage smoothly without excessive play or resistance
  • Observe the Brake Fluid Level
  1. Regularly check the brake fluid reservoir and top up if needed
  2. Refer to your car manual for the correct brake fluid type
  3. A sudden drop in fluid level may indicate a potential leak
  • Test for Brake Drag
  1. After driving, cautiously feel the wheels and hubs for excessive heat
  2. Excessive heat may indicate dragging brakes, requiring attention
  3. Dragging brakes can lead to increased wear and reduced fuel efficiency
  • Brake Pad Thickness
  1. Learn to measure the brake pad thickness as adequate thickness ensures efficient braking
  2. It is advisable to replace your brake pads, if they are worn out or are less than 3mm thick
  • Examine Brake Hoses
  1. Check brake hoses for any signs of cracks, leaks, or damage
  2. Damaged hoses can lead to brake fluid leaks and decreased performance
  3. Ensure the hoses are securely connected and free from any kinks
  • Inspect Brake Rotors/Drums
  1. Look for grooves, cracks, or warping on the brake rotors or drums
  2. Damaged rotors or drums can compromise brake effectiveness
  3. Measure the thickness of the rotors; replace if below the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Test the ABS
  1. Find a safe area to test the ABS by applying firm brakes
  2. Check for pulsations in the pedal; an irregular pedal feel may indicate ABS issues
  3. Ensure the ABS warning light illuminates during startup and turns off after
  • Regular Maintenance
  1. Follow the car manufacturer’s recommended brake inspection and servicing schedule
  2. Regular maintenance ensures your braking system remains in peak condition
  3. Have a professional mechanic inspect the brakes if you notice any concerning signs or are unsure about their condition

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, prioritising the maintenance of your car’s braking system is crucial for ensuring the safety of both yourself and other road users. Staying vigilant about common brake issues and conducting regular brake inspections can prevent accidents and costly repairs. 

If you detect any signs of unsafe brakes or feel unsure about DIY inspections, seeking assistance from a qualified mechanic for professional evaluation and repairs is the wisest course of action. Always remember, a well-maintained braking system is the foundation of safe driving, empowering you to confidently enjoy your journeys on the road.


Q. How often should I inspect my brakes?

You should inspect your brakes at least every six months or as per your car manufacturer’s recommendation to ensure they are in good working condition for safe driving.

Q. Can I drive with the brake warning light on?

It’s not advisable to drive with the brake warning light on. The light indicates potential brake issues that require immediate attention from a qualified mechanic to avoid any safety risks on Indian roads.

Q. What happens if I ignore squealing brakes?

Ignoring squealing brakes may lead to further damage, affecting the braking performance and safety of your vehicle. Get them checked promptly to avoid potential accidents.

Q. Why is my brake pedal feeling spongy?

A spongy brake pedal may be due to air in the brake lines or low brake fluid. It’s essential to address this issue promptly by consulting a professional mechanic to maintain your safety while driving.

Q. How can I prevent brake overheating?

To prevent brake overheating, avoid excessive braking on long downhill drives and ensure your braking system is well-maintained with regular inspections and timely replacement of worn-out components

Q. Should I attempt DIY brake repairs?

DIY brake repairs are not recommended unless you have the necessary expertise and knowledge. Brake systems are critical for safety, and any mistakes can lead to hazardous situations on Indian roads. Always seek professional help for brake repairs.

Q. How much does brake maintenance usually cost?

The cost of brake maintenance can vary depending on the car model, type of brake system, and any necessary repairs. It’s best to consult your local mechanic or service centre for an accurate estimate based on your specific car’s needs.