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How do I know when it's time to service my brakes?

Your vehicle's ability to stop is essential for accident avoidance, so if you haven't taken your car into the brake shop for a checkup in a while, you might want to do so as soon as possible. After all, a split second of stopping time could mean the difference between life and death on the road.

Aside from taking your car in for regular maintenance checkups as recommended by your owner's manual, there are several things you can do to ensure your brakes are safe:

  • Keep an eye out for any signs of wear on your brake pads. You can actually see them through the holes in your vehicle's wheels on most cars. You'll want to see -- at the very least -- a quarter-inch of brake pad.
  • Keep your ears attentive for a screechy sound. If you hear a high-pitched noise while braking, it's probably the wear indicator, which is designed to let you know when your brake pads are too thin.
  • Check for a lack of braking ability. This can creep up on you over time, but eventually, you might notice that your brakes aren't what they should be and you really have to press hard with your foot to get your vehicle to stop.
  • If your car starts to pull to one side, then it's definitely time to take your brakes in for service.
  • Grinding and growling noises are very bad indeed. These need to be fixed as soon as possible.
  • Vibrations coming through the brake pedal or being transferred throughout your car are particularly dangerous. Be sure take your car in immediately if you feel vibrations when you apply the brakes.

The above signs and symptoms of brakes that need service should keep you in a safe place in terms of your vehicle's braking ability. However, if despite your best efforts, someone else with bad brakes causes you to get hurt in a car crash, you should learn as much as you can about your legal rights as a personal injury plaintiff. You may be able to pursue financial restitution for your injuries in court.

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