Common Subaru Brake Problems: 6 Typical Symptoms | Carr Subaru in Portland

A problem with your vehicle's brakes can be scary. After all, not being able to stop quickly and consistently can put your safety at risk. It's even more frightening when you don't know what's happening, or why. We want to arm you with knowledge at Carr Subaru in Beaverton. On this page, we've compiled six common brake issues you might detect on your car. We'll tell you what's likely wrong, how severe your issue is and - most importantly - what to do next!

Below, we'll go through four main symptoms of problems that could cause your locks not to function as they should. Helping you stay informed is an important part of what we do at Carr Subaru.

Symptom #1: Brake System Warning Light Turns On

In a modern Subaru, a red warning light in your dashboard indicates a possible problem with your brakes. Computer-controlled sensors detect abnormalities - and when one is detected, that light will turn on. It looks like an exclamation point inside a circle, which is bordered on both sides by another curved line.

This light can turn on for a variety of reasons, but one thing is certain: Your brake system has been compromised such that it may not be safe to drive. We recommend calling your nearest authorized Subaru service center for help securing a tow and getting your brake system inspected by factory-trained experts.


Symptom #2: Alarming Odor

A noxious, metallic odor coming from your brakes after intense braking - such as after descending a long, steep hill - indicates that your brakes are overheating. Overheating brakes will burn through brake pads rapidly, and can cause brake fade by boiling the brake fluid. But even under intense braking situations, your brakes should never overheat. You'll want a professional to evaluate your whole brake system to ensure your brakes don't overheat again.


Symptom #3: Mushy-feeling Brake Pedal

When you press the brake, you should feel the brakes actuate with your foot, and get increased stopping power as you press more and more firmly. If there's a problem with air or water in the brake lines, or a failed brake master cylinder, you might notice the brake pedal feels soft and mushy, without that confidence-inspiring feedback. If it feels like you're deflating a balloon when you press the brake pedal, you'll need brake service. The brake master cylinder, which lives under the hood and translates your brake pedal movement to pressure in the brake system, might need to be replaced.


Symptom #4: Car Pulls to One Side

A kink or blockage in the brake lines or a stuck brake caliper can cause a brake to become permanently stuck closed. You'll notice more sluggish performance than usual, and your car will pull strongly to one side or the other. If your brakes aren't applying consistent, even pressure to all four wheels, your car can begin to pull. It's no fun fighting against your car the whole drive long, so have this problem looked at right away. Usually the fix will be as easy as replacing caliper pins or repairing the brake hose.


Symptom #5: Shuddering when Braking

Does your car drive smoothly down the road, but begin to shudder, shimmy and shake when you engage the brakes? You probably have a damaged brake rotor. Damage to the rotor can create high and low spots which pass across the brake pads when you press the brake. This can often translate into intense vibrations in the cabin. Replacing the brake rotors is a fast, easy and commonplace repair in a Subaru service center - and if you choose to replace the rotors yourself, be sure to also replace the rotor on the opposite side of the same axle. Brake components should always be replaced in pairs.


Symptom #6: Squeaking when Braking

By far the most common thing a driver will notice that's out of the ordinary with their brakes is a squeaking noise. It might go away as your vehicle warms up - or it might just be getting drowned out by road noise and the stereo. In either event, don't worry! This noise merely indicates that your brake pads are on their last legs. A metal wear indicator tab rubs along the brake rotor and creates this sound when you need new brake pads. Just visit your nearest Subaru service center for replacement pads and be on your way, squeak-free.

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