How do I know if my car brakes are faulty - image of warning lights on dashboard

How Do I Know if There is a Problem with My Car Brakes?

Is There a Problem with My Car’s Brakes?

Car brakes are THE most important feature of your car. Probably the second thing you do when you start driving is put your foot on the brake. In this article we look at some of the warning signs that there might be a problem and what to do.

This isn’t a cartoon, you absolutely need your car to stop when you hit he brakes. If nothing happens, that’s a scary situation. So here are the two main warning signs to look out for:

  • Dashboard brake warning lights come on when driving
  • Grinding or squealing noise when you apply the car brakes

Which are the dashboard brake warning lights?

You will have noticed that all of the dashboard warning lights illuminate when you first start your car. Once the car is ready to drive, they should all go off again.

Two of the icons are warning lights for your brakes. One for the main brakes on the wheels: a circle with an exclamation mark and lines on each side. This should not light up in normal driving conditions.

The second one is for the parking brake or handbrake. This is similar to the main brake warning light, but has a capital P in the middle in place of the exclamation mark.

The parking light simply indicates that your parking brake or handbrake is on when everything is working normally. As with the main car brake icon on the dashboard, it should not light up in normal driving conditions.

What to when your brake warning lights come on

If the handbrake warning light comes on when your handbrake is not applied, this can can indicate that there is an issue with low brake fluid. If you see the handbrake icon lit when you are driving, then you need to get your brake fluid checked as soon as possible.

What if the main brake warning light comes on and stays on while you’re driving? This indicates that the brake pads on your vehicle are close to wearing out and will need to be replaced.

How does it work? The main car brake warning light is connected to a small piece of metal in the brake pad. As the brake pad wears over normal use, this small piece of metal will gradually become exposed.

When the metal is exposed, the component connects with the metal of the brake disc. This completes the circuit and notifies the car’s ECU computer to light the main brake warning light because the brake pad needs to be replaced.

What to do if you hear a grating sound when you apply the brakes

Older or lower spec cars don’t always have a main brake warning light on the dashboard. Instead the have a different indicator to let you know that your brake pads are wearing out.

If you hear a high pitched grating sound when you apply the brakes, you should definitely bring your car to the garage. This sound means that one or more of your brake pads is worn out or very close to the end of its life.

This works on a similar principle to the dashboard warning light, but without the technology! Nearing the end of the brake pad’s life, there is a small piece of metal. This time it isn’t connected to a circuit, instead it is purely there so that it will grate against the brakes disk make a horrible sound.

This doesn’t do any damage to the car’s brake disk. It’s entire purpose is to make the horrible noise and prompt you to take your car to the garage.

Call us if you think your car brakes need attention

If you think your car has any of these faults, don’t hesitate to call. We are happy to inspect your vehicle if you want to check if your car brakes are working correctly.

To make an appointment at our Leicester garage, give us a call on 0116 3190 118 or mobile 07850 881 911get in touch via our contact form.

If you’re in the area, feel free to drop in to our friendly garage at on Shaftsbury Road, Leicester, LE3 0QN.

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