Approach your car brakes as serious as Dave Ramsey approaches credit card debt: every problem is a massive problem and it needs to be solved right now. Sometimes, this isn’t quite true. Credit card debt can be leveraged, and sometimes using credit cards makes sense. But those times are few and far between, and those strategies should only be handled by experts. Unless you know precisely what you’re doing and you have tons of resources to get out a situation unscathed, don’t do it.

Never Ignore Your Brakes: Every Problem Is Dangerous

That’s just as true for brake problems. Unless you’re an expert car technician who specializes in brakes, it’s much safer to assume that driving onward with screeching brakes is a bad idea. The vast majority of the time, it’s true, and bad brakes are dangerous. Here are some signs your next stop you should at a car repair shop.

What do you see?

A lot of cars have a separate warning light in the dashboard for brake problems. Just like with a check engine light, a brake warning light doesn’t necessarily mean an emergency, especially if you have a newer model that predicts the optimal time for a replacement. But there’s no way to be sure until your mechanic plugs the computer into a code reader.

If you see your car pulling to one side when you break, whether you’re stopping slowly or quickly, that’s also a sign your brakes need to be repaired.

What do you hear?

Bad brakes make a lot of noise. Grinding and squealing indicate that the brake pads are past their wear point. Anything that sounds like metal hitting metal is an immediate warning sign.

What do you feel?

Braking should bring your car to a smooth halt, even if you slam on the brakes. If the car feels like it’s bouncing or the steering wheel feels like it’s shaking, something is going wrong. If you also compress the brake pedal without feeling any pressure or the brakes don’t kick in responsively, you need to go to a repair shop.

Sometimes brakes have multiple symptoms, or they can have just one problem intermittently. But you can’t wait. Schedule a quick check-up with Anything Automotive to make sure your car is in good driving condition.