Keeping an older vehicle on the road is an excellent way to save money, but always keeping safety at the forefront is important. As vehicles age, parts are more likely to fail, and you may face more than routine maintenance and upkeep. Your braking system may be particularly vulnerable to these failures since it generates incredible amounts of heat and friction.

Fortunately, it's relatively easy to ensure the safety of a braking system with many miles under its belt, as long as you pay close attention to the early warning signs of trouble. If you don't know what symptoms to look for as your car's braking system ages, it's worth familiarizing yourself with these three signs of a developing problem.

1. Changes in Pedal Feel

Modern vehicles put several layers of separation between your brake pedal and the physical brake pads that stop your vehicle. When you push on the brake pedal, you're typically actuating a hydraulic piston that relies on a vacuum booster to reduce the effort required. In other words, most of the pedal feel comes from the condition of the hydraulic parts of your braking system.

Loss of hydraulic pressure is one of the most hazardous issues in any braking system, and it's one of the few problems that can prevent your car from stopping safely. If you feel your pedal becoming softer, you should stop driving your vehicle and consider having it towed to an experienced shop. While many other braking problems are not immediately dangerous, this is one symptom you should never ignore.

2. Pulling While Braking

You probably know that alignment issues can cause your car to drift, even if you hold the steering wheel straight. However, your suspension isn't the only part of your car that can cause it to pull to one side. If stepping on your brake pedal results in your car noticeably pulling to the left or the right, it can often be a sign of a stuck caliper.

A stuck caliper won't prevent your car from stopping, but it can reduce braking performance and lead to unpredictable handling. You will also destroy your brake pads and rotors much more quickly. If you notice this behavior, look for excessive brake dust on one wheel, as a stuck caliper will quickly grind down your brake pads and create a large amount of dust.

3. Uneven Braking or Vibrations

If your brakes vibrate or shake violently, there's a good chance your rotors may be warped or otherwise damaged. While rotors will get worn, many manufacturers recommend keeping the same rotors through multiple brake pad changes. However, your rotors will still wear down, especially as your car ages.

Once you notice your rotors affecting your car's drivability, it's time to replace them or, at a minimum, have a qualified shop resurface them. Replacing your rotors will help your brake pads last longer while also ensuring your car can stop smoothly and confidently. 

For more information, contact a local company like Fast Service Center.