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Updated: 3/28/2003 1:53 pm
Problems with your car's brake system should never be ignored. A thorough brake inspection includes examination of the master cylinder, the brake lines, linings, rotors, drums, calipers, and wheel cylinders, most of which should be repaired or replaced only by a qualified professional. However, there are some safety checks a driver can do to determine whether or not it's time to have the brakes inspected. One is to test the resiliency of the brake pedal. While in 'park,' push down hard on the brake pedal and hold it in place. The pedal should stop firmly about half way to the floor and stay there. If it goes almost to the floor, or further, have the brakes checked. If you hear squeaking, scraping, or grinding noises when you stop, it's time to have a look at those brakes. Another important item to check is the brake fluid. Look at its color. If it appears extremely dark or murky, it's time to replace the brake fluid. If the level of brake fluid is low, add more, but see a brake professional about the possibility of a defective master cylinder. Never ignore the brake warning light on your dash when it comes on, even if it's only sporadic. Have your brakes checked. It could save someone's life.

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