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How to tell if car brakes are seizing

Updated April 17, 2017

Having a brake system seize while driving can be dangerous to the driver as well as everyone else on the road. A seizing brake system is the first symptom of major failure in the brake functionality of the vehicle. Seizing is generally caused by the brake pads or rotors being worn down over time and needing replacement. Seizing is categorised by brakes dragging with a slow or halted response, or pulling dramatically to one side or the other.

Check for seized brakes in the form of dragging by driving down a straight flat piece of road with a speed limit of at least 40 miles per hour. Drive the car straight and accelerate to 40mph. Apply brakes normally as if coming to a stop. Listen for grinding noises, a failed response or a delayed response.

Accelerate once more this time just drive straight. Lessen the tension in your hands while driving, but do not let go. Feel the wheel drive one way or the other. Grip the wheel tightly and even out at the first sign of pull. Apply the brakes normally and, while holding the brakes down, again feel for pull one way or the other.

Drive the car to a mechanic if any of these signs are apparent in the tests and ask the mechanic to check the brake system to avoid any future accidents that may occur due to brake failure. Drive normally if the brakes are working within parameters.

Things You'll Need

  • Car
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