If you live in the Northeast United States, you've probably noticed the unseasonably warm weather. Thanks to the return of El Niño, the days remain balmy well into December, without a flake of snow in sight.
Drivers should take advantage of this weather. The cold and snow will arrive eventually, and it's important to make sure you car gets a pre-winter checkup before the worst of it appears.
There are a number of tune-ups that you should be making to your vehicle in preparation for winter, including checking your oil and maintaining enough wiper fluid. But the most critical components to maintain are your brakes. As roads become slick with snow and ice, you need to make sure that you can rely on your car to stop when necessary.
Unfortunately, many drivers do not recognize all of the signs of failing brake pads. Even more do not realize that their driving habits can actually accelerate this wear and tear. When you examine your car, keep these tips in mind:
- Listen for squealing: The occasional squeak when brakes get wet is one thing, but consistent noise suggests that your brake pads have worn down to the point where they need to be replaced.
- Braking feels strange: It can be different to describe, but sometimes brakes will feel thicker than normal when you press the pedal. Your car may also take longer to stop. This is a sign to inspect the pads.
- Car pulls to one side: If some brake pads are wearing at different rates than others, your car may be more difficult to control when stopping.
It can be hard enough to control a car in winter conditions. Don't let the poor condition of your brakes raise that difficulty even further.