When do your brakes need to be replaced?

Most vehicle owners realize that their brakes are critical to their own safety when driving. But how do you know when your brakes are wearing out and need to be replaced?

If your daily commute is tough on you, imagine what it’s doing to your braking system. Your braking system is bringing thousands of pounds of metal, plastic, people and a few fast food wrappers to a screeching halt many times a day. These components are durable, but they slowly wear out. You may not notice your brakes need replacement until it’s too late.

If you delay repair work on your brakes, it could mean paying more down the road. Or you could find yourself behind the driver’s seat on a vehicle that suddenly has no working braking system at all.

The top signs of brake wear include:
• High-pitched squeals when stopping
• Steering wheel shakes when stopping
• Grinding noises when stopping
• Takes longer to brake
• Vehicle pulls to left or right when stopping
• Emergency brake feels weak
• A bad odor coming from the brakes occuring after a hard stop
• Vehicle won’t stop

One of the most obvious signs that your brakes need some work is the sound of a high-pitched squeal when you come to a stop. It’s an annoying sound, much like fingernails on a chalkboard. When the brake pads wear down to the point where there is less than one-quarter-inch left, you’ll start hearing that warning squeal. Depending on how much wear and tear you put on your vehicle each day, that sound indicates you should replace your brake pads within the month.
Sometimes that metal indicator can rust and fall off, and you won’t hear that high-pitched sound. Some low-cost or aftermarket brake pads don’t have any metal wear indicator, making it more difficult to know when your brakes need attention.

If you notice that it’s taking longer to stop than it used to, even a few months ago, it’s time to bring your car in to get it checked out. Routine brake pad checks are a great idea. They require your wheel to be removed to check the pads, but they don’t take much time, as long as your mechanic knows what to look for.
Rotors need to be replaced less frequently than brake pads. If your steering wheel seems to shake when you come to a stop, it’s likely that your rotors are warped or worn out. It’s time to replace them, or have your rotors “turned,” which means the metal is shaved smooth again instead of being replaced.
Some motorists choose to switch to ceramic brake pads. Ceramic pads will produce less dust and are often quieter than traditional brake pads.

If you are concerned about the condition of your brakes, give us a call at Escondido Auto Tech at (760) 745-4454 to schedule an appointment. Our experienced brake technicians use Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) quality or better parts when replacing any of your braking hardware. We refuse to use substandard replacements.