One of the most important components of your car is your brake system. No matter how well your engine runs, you will eventually need to stop your vehicle. Here are a few indications that it's time to visit an auto repair shop to get your brakes serviced:

Lit Panel Light

The panel lights on your dashboard probably include a warning light that indicates your brake fluid is too low. Brake fluid helps provide pressure to amplify the stopping action of your brakes. When brake fluid in your vehicle becomes low, you may notice that your brake pedal can be depressed beyond its normal limit. Thus, when you attempt to apply your brakes, you may have to press the pedal harder and closer to the floorboard of your car.

Your Brake Fluid Has Not Been Changed in a Couple of Years

Brake fluid becomes contaminated as it absorbs moisture. As the amount of water in your brake fluid increases, the boiling temperature of the fluid is lowered. Thus, the contaminated brake fluid becomes a gas at lower temperatures.

In a gaseous state, the brake fluid is not effective at transferring the force required to stop your vehicle. Thus, contaminated brake fluid needs to be replaced periodically. The same fluid should not remain in your vehicle more than two years in most cases. However, you should check with your auto repair specialist or your vehicle manual to make sure that you are changing your fluid in accordance with what is best for the make and model of your vehicle.

Your Brakes Screech or Grind

If your brakes screech or grind when you attempt to stop your vehicle, it's likely time to change your brake pads. As the pads of your brakes wear away, the metal backing can scrub against the rotors of your car. This not only damages the rotors by scraping grooves into the metal; the friction of the pad metal rubbing against that of your rotors emits a squealing or grinding sound. If you are hearing odd noises when you depress your brake pedal, it is best to have your brake pads changed as soon as possible. If you procrastinate, you may have to replace your rotors.

Rotors that are thick enough can sometimes be resurfaced or smoothed by your mechanic. However, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotors are too thin for smoothing, replacement may be your only option.

If you have not had your brakes checked recently, visit an auto repair shop in your area. Go to websites about car maintenance for more information.