5 signs you need to change your brakes
Having your brakes in good working order doesn’t just prevent wear and tear on your vehicle – it’s essential to your safety too.
Each time you brake, it causes a minute amount of wear on your brake pads. Over time, this adds up and your pads get thinner. That means you’ll eventually need to replace them or you won’t be braking as effectively, which is a danger to you and your passengers, as well as other drivers. Plus, worn pads can damage your rotors and other parts of your vehicle.
But how do you know when your brake pads need replacing? Check out these tell-tale signs and keep them in mind when you’re on the road.
Squealing or grinding
Have you ever heard a high-pitched squealing sound when you apply your brakes? Squealing or screeching is a sign your brake pads are wearing down and need replacing.
This unpleasant noise is caused by the metal shim, which gives you a warning sound as your brake pads wear away. If you consistently hear squealing when you brake, make sure you get your pads inspected.
Deep, low grinding sounds can mean your pads have worn away so much that there’s metal-on-metal contact. This can significantly damage your vehicle, so get your brakes checked straight away if you hear this noise.
Signs you can see
One way to know the condition of your brakes is to look at them. You can check the thickness by peering through the spokes of your wheels, where you should see your brake pad pressed against the metal rotor. If your pads are thinner than a quarter of an inch (around 3mm), it’s probably time to replace them.
Another visual cue to look for is a warning light on your dashboard. Some vehicles have a sensor on the brake pads to let you know when they need replacing. If you see your brake light come on, visit your mechanic who can recommend when to get your brakes replaced.
If your brakes don’t feel like they’re responding well when you put your foot down, be sure to get them inspected. This is called ‘brake fade’ and happens as your brakes wear down and become less effective over time.
If the pedal feels like it’s sinking towards the floor or you have to press it right down before your brakes engage, your brake fluid might be leaking. Keep an eye out for a small puddle of fluid on the ground when your car is parked, which also indicates a leak. This problem could also be caused by an air leak in the hydraulic system, or your brake pads might need replacing.
Pulling or vibrating
When you notice a change in how your brakes feel, that’s a sign they need attention.
If your car seems to pull to one side as you brake, that indicates your brakes are wearing unevenly. They might need adjusting or replacing, so get them checked by a mechanic.
Likewise if your brake pedal or steering wheel vibrates when you slow down, it’s time to get your brakes looked at. As your pads wear over time, the resin in them can smear on the rotor and, if it does this unevenly, it can make your pedal vibrate or shake when you press on it. This issue might also indicate you need your brake pads replaced. So if you notice vibrating or shaking, get your brakes inspected – if it goes unchecked, your brakes can become less effective.
Remember, taking care of your brakes is essential to your safety on the road. Some brakes last longer and perform better than others, so make sure you get the right brake parts to suit your vehicle’s needs.