Modern cars have a few ways of letting you know what's wrong with them. If you notice a flashing brake light on your dashboard, you'll know right away something's up--and you'll know how important it is to get your car to a mechanic right away. You're probably also used to 'feeling' what's wrong with your car; if the brake pedal starts to feel off somehow or you noticed that when you hit the brakes your car is taking longer to grind to a halt than it used to, you'll be on the ball with getting it into the shop.
There are a few other things you should be keeping an eye out for, though--and not all of them are that obvious. So what are the three biggest 'hidden' signs that it's time to have your car brakes serviced?
Unexpected sounds when you brake
Every time you brake your car, you're causing a small hydraulic system to activate. These hydraulics clamp a pair of padded calipers down over a rotating disc, and once that disc can no longer rotate it should only be a few moments before the car stops moving. When those pads wear thin, you'll start hearing a high-pitched noise when you brake; if you go completely through them you'll get a low grinding sound. Get them replaced ASAP once you start to hear the squeal--not only is letting them wear through potentially dangerous, you'll also be running the risk of damaging parts that are much harder to replace!
A car with a mind of its own
You know the weird sensation you get sometimes that your car is 'pulling' to the left or right, and wants to turn even when you don't? There's a good chance this is down to something in its braking system: either a worn-down pad on one side or the other, a caliper that isn't working as smoothly as it ought or a kink in the hose that makes the brake's hydraulics work. Whatever it is, you need to get it looked at right away. There are a few non-brake-related things that can cause this feeling too, and none of them are problems you'll want to leave unchecked.
Distinctive rumbling sensations
If you've ever needed to make an emergency stop while driving--something pretty much everyone needs to do to pass their test--you'll know that it just feels different. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the emergency stop is that deep vibrating sensation underneath your feet; this is a thing brakes only do when they're stressed. Almost every car will feel like this in an emergency braking scenario, but if yours has started giving you that kind of feedback when you're making an ordinary stop it needs to get checked out. It will probably be down to one of two things: either the rotor (that little wheel the calipers clamp down on) is warped or your wheels aren't quite in alignment. Either way, it needs to be dealt with ASAP!