Your vehicle’s brakes might not be at the forefront of your mind, but they are a feature that you always want to be functioning properly. Below, we will be going over how you can figure out when its time to get new brakes.
Look and Listen
One of the best ways to figure out whether or not your brakes are wearing down is by using your ears and eyes. First, you want to check for physical wear by looking at your brake pads. You want to look at them through the spoke of your wheels. You will see the outer pad is pressed against a metal rotor. In brakes that are in good condition, you will notice that they have at least a quarter of an inch left. For brake pads that look as if they are even thinner, you want to have them inspected and/or replaced entirely.
If you have been driving for some time, you have likely heard your brakes squeal at some point. Brakes that are wearing down let off a very audible sound when the brakes are applied. That sound is created by the metal indicator wearing down. This sound is a clear indicator that your brakes need to be replaced. This sound is loud enough that you can hear it with your windows up, but you might not notice it as much if you are listening to music. Because of this, you want to occasionally open your window and turn off your speakers to ensure that your breaks are in working condition.
One of the exceptions to this rule is if your vehicle has been in the rain or a heavy downpour. The moisture that results from this can end up causing a small layer of rust to develop on your rotors. This is a normal process and it can cause your breaks to make the same sound as if they are going bad. However, this should go away. Therefore, you want to check to see if the sound persists. If it does, your breaks are going bad.
We will also be going over some of the other problems to look out for when trying to figure out if your breaks are going bad. If you experience any of the known signs, you want to visit a professional repair shop quickly.
Another thing that you want to look out for would be a lack of responsiveness from your breaks. If you notice that your brake has to be pressed hard in order to respond to being pressed, it is likely an indication that your brake fluid is leaking. It could be something as small as there is a leak in your brake house. However, this can cause issues with your brakes and result in a dangerous situation. One of the easiest ways to tell if your brakes are leaking is by seeing whether or not there is a puddle building up while your vehicle is parked.
Another key thing to look for would be pulling. If you notice that your vehicle is pulling to a specific side while you engage your brakes, it is likely a sign that you are experiencing uneven wear and tear with your brakes. This is a telltale sign that you are in need of a brake adjustment or that you need to replace your brake fluid.
If you notice a significant and loud grinding sound, it is likely an indication that your brakes have completely worn down beyond the point where they should have been replaced. This grinding sound is generally the result of having two metal parts rubbing against one another including the disc and the caliper. Unfortunately, this can end up scratching your rotors which can create a surface that isn’t even. Therefore, you might notice that your mechanic tells you that your rotors need to be either turned or replaced.
If you notice your brake either vibrating or pulsating, it is likely an indication that you are suffering from rotors that have been warped. It could also be a sign that your vehicle has somehow gotten out of alignment. This vibration can be easily misdiagnosed as the same feeling you get when you slam on your brakes for an immediate stop and the vehicle engages its anti-lock brakes. If you notice this when you are not actively slamming your brakes, it is a clear sign you might have warped rotors that need to be repaired.
For a lot of vehicle owners, brake maintenance is an afterthought. However, it should be at the forefront of your vehicle maintenance. After all, brakes are perhaps one of the most important parts on your vehicle for safe driving and proper maintenance can stave off costly repairs down the line.