Close up: Car brake repairing in garage.Suspension of car for maintenance brakes and shock absorber systems.| Griffis Automotive Clinic

Top Signs Your Car Needs Brake Service: A Groveland Perspective

A vehicle’s brakes are subject to wear and tear, often catching vehicle owners off guard with unexpected expenses. You can save money on brake repairs if you know how to catch worn brakes sooner rather than later. Recognizing the symptoms of failing brakes allows you to reach Griffis Automotive Clinic in Groveland, FL, for timely brake service and repair, preventing further damage to the braking system.

The top signs your vehicle needs brake service include:

Thicker Brake Dust

When you see excessive brake dust on your wheels, it means the pads are wearing faster. Some brake dust is normal, but when it gets to be too much, it’s time to check the brakes.

Warning Lights

Most vehicles have two warning lights for the brakes. One is the normal brake warning light, and the other is the ABS warning light. If either light comes on, you could have a serious problem and should bring your vehicle to Griffis Automotive Clinic immediately to have our brake specialist check the system.

It Takes Longer to Stop

You may notice that it seems to take longer to stop, or you have to use more pressure on the brake pedal. Generally, the pads are getting low when this happens. However, you may notice this issue if other components are worn or broken, including thin rotors, a collapsing brake hose, or a master cylinder starting to fail. A stuck-open caliper can also increase stopping distances and compromise brake reliability.


Brakes can make two different noises: Squeaking or squealing and grinding. Generally, the squeaking and squealing come first. The brake pads have a metal tab that sticks up from the backing plate. You can see it on the side of the pad material. When the thickness of the brake pad reaches the same height as the metal tab, the tab rubs the rotor, making a squeaking or squealing noise.

Brake pads are intentionally designed this way to serve as a warning indicator when the pad material is running low. If you don’t hear it or ignore it, the tab significantly cuts into the rotor, creating a groove that cannot be machined out. You’ll have to replace the rotors.

The second type of noise is a grinding sound. When the pad material disappears, the metal backing rubs the rotors every time you step on the brake. Once this happens, it tears up the rotor, which must be replaced. This can also lead to a brake hose collapsing or a caliper overextending. If either happens, you must replace the malfunctioning component.

Spongy Brake Pedal

If the brake pedal feels spongy or “soft” when you step on it, you may have a problem with air in the lines or a brake fluid leak. Since the system is a closed system, both problems are serious in that you could instantly lose all braking power.

Pulsation or Vibration in the Brake Pedal

When you press the brake pedal and feel pulsations or vibrations, you may have warped brake rotors, which could happen if they get too thin or if you otherwise damage them. Warped or damaged rotors often mean the braking is uneven, with reduced braking performance.

Burning Smell

You may experience a burning smell when stepping on the brakes or when driving. If you only smell it while stepping on the brakes, the brakes are too hot – this usually happens when you constantly brake going down a steep hill. As soon as possible, pull over and let the brakes cool off. If they start smelling again, you should have them checked out.

The other instance of a burning smell happens when you are driving and not stepping on the brake. This means the brake pads are constantly rubbing against the rotor when they shouldn’t be touching it. This is a significant issue – either a caliper froze closed, or a brake line collapsed. Both require immediate attention.

Fluid Leaks

Always look for brake fluid leaks by the calipers, master cylinder, and, where applicable, the wheel cylinders. It’s always best to tow the vehicle if you have a brake fluid leak, as the brakes could immediately fail.

Contact Griffis Automotive Clinic

If you notice signs that your vehicle might need brake service, contact Griffis Automotive Clinic in Groveland, FL at (352) 243-2277. We are conveniently located at 1508 A Max Hooks Rd., Groveland, FL 34736.

Start Your Road Trip Preparations with a Pre-Trip Inspection

To ensure your car is ready to hit the road when you are, complete a pre-trip inspection in Groveland, FL about two to three weeks before your summer road trip. That’ll give you time to complete the preventative maintenance and repair services your car needs to run and drive at its best through every mile.

Whenever you’d like to get your car ready for your travels, reach out to our team at Griffis Automotive Clinic with a call to (352) 243-2277. If you prefer to visit us, we’re located at 1508 A Max Hooks Rd., Groveland, FL 34736.