Though brakes are one of the most important components of your vehicle, they’re also one of the most difficult to predict in terms of replacement. Most mechanics state that brake pads and rotors can last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Needless to say, that’s a pretty wide service range – so wide that many people don’t have their brakes serviced until they notice there’s a problem.
But just how do you know when your brakes need servicing? Here are four tell-tale signs:
- Check the Pads: If you want to be proactive with your brake pads, get down and look at them. You don’t need to get underneath the car to do this; just peek between spaces in the wheel hub cap and look to see if the brake pads have more than about a quarter inch of pad. Anything less, and brake pad replacement should be considered.
- Grinding: If you hear grinding sounds every time you apply the brake pedal, make sure to get your car into a mechanic soon. Your brake pads are likely worn down beyond the point of replacement, so much so that the disc and caliper are coming into contact with each other. In this case, your rotors will either need to be turned or replaced.
- Screeching Sound: If you hear a screech when you apply the brakes, it’s probably time to get your brake pads replaced. Just think of the screeching sound as a warning siren – and don’t put off servicing your brakes for too long. Remember, if the pads completely wear out, you may have issues with the rotor or trouble stopping the vehicle in a reasonable length of time.
- Pulling/Fading/Lack of Response: Aside from hardware issues with the pads and rotors, you may also run into issues with brake fluid. If you’re pressing the pedal down to the floor when applying the brake, there could be a leak, either in the brake hose or a fluid leak. If your car pulls when the brake pedal is applied, that could mean that its linings aren’t wearing evenly or that the brake fluid is contaminated. In either case, check underneath the car when it’s parked to see if fluid puddles up, which may indicate a brake fluid leak. If your car’s brakes seem to be behaving unusually, make an appointment to have them serviced.
While many people service their brakes only when there’s a problem, brake issues can often be resolved before they become a big problem just by bringing your vehicle in for a standard tune up.