When do you need new brakes? Keeping your car’s braking system in good shape is incredibly important, for obvious reasons. That means replacing your brake pads whenever they start to wear out. Checking your brakes is part of every regular maintenance schedule, but the right time to replace them will depend on how much you drive and where you do most of your driving. Here’s how to know when it’s time to schedule that brake pad service!
How To Tell When Your Car Needs New Brake Pads
Depending on the car, you can sometimes see how worn your brake pads are just by looking. First, look for the shiny metal rotor in between the spokes of your wheel. When you find it, look around the outer edge where you’ll see the metal caliper. Between the caliper and rotor, you’ll see the brake pad. You’ll have to estimate, but generally, your pads should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. If they look any thinner than that, it’s a good idea to get them changed.
Brake pads also make noise when they’re worn out. They’re built with a small bit of metal embedded in the pad, designed to make an annoying noise when the brake pad reaches the end of its life. If you start to hear a high-pitched squeal or screech when you brake, and it doesn’t go away after a few stops, it’s time for that brake service!
If you ignore the indicator for too long, you’ll start to hear a harsh grinding noise instead. This is a serious problem! If your brakes start to grind, the brake pad has worn down completely, and you’re hearing the brake rotor grind against the metal backing. This won’t stop the car very well, and it’ll damage the brake rotor, so don’t let it happen! Get to the service center ASAP!
If your brake pedal vibrates when you press it down, this can indicate that you need a brake service. You also might need new brakes if the brake pedal feels “mushy” — your foot has to move closer to the floor before you feel the brakes respond.