When it comes to vehicle safety, brakes top the list of systems that need regular checking, according to the Car Care Council. The CCC advises drivers to be aware of the warning signals when brakes need maintenance or replacement.

"If brake service is neglected, you're gambling with your safety, and the safety of your passengers and other drivers," says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council.

Brake problem danger signs include:

  • vehicle pulling to the left or right;
  • odd noises when you apply the brakes;
  • an illuminated brake warning light;
  • brake grabbing;
  • low pedal feel;
  • vibration;
  • hard pedal feel;
  • squealing.

For routine maintenance, it's important to check the vehicle's braking system at least once a year, says the CCC. A thorough inspection should include brake lining wear, brake fluid level, rotor thickness, condition of hoses and brake lines, brake and dash warning lights, as well as taking the car for a test drive to detect other potential brake system problems.