BMW makes some of the most reliable cars on the road. They’re known for quality manufacturing and high performance.
But just like any other car, BMWs need to be kept in tip-top shape in order to provide a superior driving experience. As a car owner, it’s up to you to educate yourself on the warning signs that tell you a component needs replacing.
Brakes are one of the most important of these components. Bad brakes pose a safety risk to you and other drivers on the road. Neglecting brake replacement will also lead to additional costly repairs.
To help you out, we’re going over some common signs that it’s time for new BMW brakes.
Worn out Brake Pads
The majority of cars on the road have disc brakes. These operate similarly to hydraulic brakes on a bicycle.
Brake fluid triggers the brake pads when you step on the pedal. This causes them to squeeze together against a disk called a rotor. The friction created when this happens causes your car to slow down.
When these pads start wearing thin, your BMW brakes won’t be as effective. However, checking the level of deterioration on the brake pads is fairly simple.
Simply examine the pads through the spokes of your wheels. You’ll be looking for the shiny metal disc or rotor. The pad is held up to the rotor by a caliper.
Between the caliper and rotor, you’ll see the pad. If you notice that the pads are less than a quarter of an inch thick, it’s time for a replacement.
The great thing about disc brakes is they’ll usually tell you when they need attention. There are a number of sounds your BMW brakes make when they’ve reached their life expectancy.
The most common is a high-pitched squealing sound. Disc brakes are made with an indicator, which is a small metal piece designed to create this sound when your brake pads wear down. If you hear this, it’s time to call a mechanic.
Another common sound is a grinding noise when you brake. This happens when there’s little or no pad left and the caliper is rubbing against the rotor. If you hear this, it means your brake pads are completely worn away.
The last sound is a clicking sound when you apply the brakes. Disc pads come with a device that prevents them from rattling when they’re applied. If a clicking sound begins, it means that your pads are severely worn down and it’s time for replacements.
Pulling to One Side
If your car pulls to the right or left while braking, there are a number of potential problems.
One possible culprit is a caliper that’s become stuck. This results in friction applied to only one wheel while braking, which means your car will pull to one side.
A collapsed brake hose may also cause pulling. A problem with the brake hose causes either the calipers or pads to operate unevenly. This results in different amounts of pressure applied to different wheels.
Other issues related to your car pulling include foreign objects in the brake fluid or uneven brake linings. A qualified mechanic can properly diagnose the problem.
Different Types of Vibration
There are generally two types of vibration that indicate a problem with your BMW brakes. These include vibration in the steering wheel or a pulsing of the brake pedal. Both occur while applying the brakes.
The pulsing sensation is similar to the feeling when you execute an emergency stop with anti-lock brakes. However, if you feel this while braking normally, you have an issue.
Vibration from the steering wheel or brake pedal is typically an indication of warped rotors. The pads cause this vibration while rubbing against the uneven surface.
Warped rotors usually occur after long periods of high stress. This could be stress from frequent quick stops or stress from excessive driving on steep hills.
Lack of Responsiveness
If your BMW doesn’t have the same quick response or the brake pedal sinks to the floor while braking, you have a problem with the braking system.
It’s likely that there is a brake system leak. A break in the air hose means that either brake fluid or air is getting out.
When you park your car overnight, check for brake fluid on the floor the next day. It looks similar to motor oil, but with a less greasy texture.
You’ll need a qualified mechanic to take a look at the brake system to determine the exact cause.
Do you notice a burning or chemical-like smell when you brake hard? You could have overheated brakes.
If this happens, stop driving your car immediately. Make sure the emergency brake is not engaged and allow your brakes enough time to cool. Letting your brakes overheat too much could result in total brake failure.
You also want to look for any smoke coming from the wheels around the brake pads. Smoke is an indication of stuck calipers. It’s best to get your car to a mechanic right away.
Check Engine or Brake Light
The easiest way to tell if your BMW brakes need to be replaced is if your check engine or brake indicator light comes on. Now, a check engine light could mean a number of things. But if you haven’t had your brakes serviced in a while, this is your cue to have them checked.
Some cars come with brake lights on the dashboard that indicate if there’s problem. If yours turns on, don’t hesitate to have a mechanic take a look. Even if you don’t notice a problem, you’re better safe than sorry.
Keep Your BMW Brakes in Good Working Order
Your BMW is one of the top-performing cars on the road. In order to keep it that way, make sure and pay attention to your car and watch out for the common signs of bad brakes.
Not only do you owe it to your car, you owe it to you and all other drivers on the road. If you feel your brakes need an inspection, visit a qualified mechanic immediately.