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How Do You Know When You Need New Brakes?

While you probably get oil changes on a routine basis, how do you know when you need new brakes? Brakes are arguably the most important component of your vehicle, though they’re often ignored until it’s too late. Luckily, there are several warning signs to look and listen for to determine whether it’s time to give your brake system some love. Read on to learn about when your brake pads need to be replaced, as well as six warning signs that you need new brakes. 

When do brake pads need to be replaced?

Brake pads usually need to be replaced every 50,000 miles. This number depends on the car, however—some vehicles need new brake pads every 25,000 miles, while others can last for 70,000 miles before needing replacement pads. Replacing your brake pads regularly is highly recommended, since a worn-down pad not only can cause a hefty rotor repair fee down the road, but more importantly, could leave you vulnerable to a collision. 

6 warning signs you need new brakes 

  1. Your brake pads are no longer visible. One of the simplest ways to tell whether or not your vehicle needs new brakes is to inspect the thickness of your brake pads. Look between the spokes of your wheel to see if your brake pads are visible against the rotor. If they aren’t visible, it likely means that they are completely worn out and need to be replaced immediately. If you can clearly see that your brake pads are more than ¼-inch thick, they’re probably fine as is. 
  2. You hear a high-pitched squeal, squeak, or clicking noise in your car. There are few things worse than hearing an unnatural sound—such as a squeal, click, or squeak—when you apply pressure to your brakes. Today, many cars are equipped with “wear indicators,” which are meant to alert you when your brake pads have worn down to a dangerously low point. If your brakes squeak when you press on them, the audible noise you’re hearing is from a small metal shim, called an indicator, which taps against the rotor. Keep an ear out for this noise—you can still hear it when the windows are down, but not necessarily when the A.C. is turned on.   Another sound to listen for is clicking. Some cars keep their brake pads fixed to their wheels with clips, bolts, or pins. If these fixtures become loose due to some sort of damage, they could rattle against your car, causing the noise. 
  3. You hear a grinding noise. A telltale warning sign that you need new brakes is when you press on the brake pedal and hear a terrible grinding or grating sound. This indicates that the brake pad has completely worn out, and the metal brake disc and metal caliper rubbing together. Neglecting your brakes for this long leads to serious consequences—your rotors will likely need to be turned or replaced.
  4. Your car starts pulling in one direction when you brake. If you notice that your car starts to swerve to one side when you brake, that probably indicates that there’s uneven wear on your brakes or a type of foreign matter in the brake fluid.
  5. Your brake pedals are vibrating. Brake pedals that shake or vibrate when you step on them could be a sign that your rotors are warped. This sort of vibration may feel similar to the pulsating you feel when you come to an abrupt stop and the anti-lock brake system becomes engaged. If you overuse your brakes, such as on steep declines or when hauling heavy objects, the excess friction on the braking system may cause your rotors to become warped.
  6. It takes longer to come to a complete stop than usual. If braking requires extra effort—like stomping on the brake pedal, rather than tapping it—you may need new brakes. If you notice that your brake pedal is “sinking” to the floor, it could be because you have a fluid or air leak in your braking system. Look beneath your car when you’re parked—a fluid leak will reveal a telltale fluid stain on the ground. Brake fluid looks similar to motor oil, but thinner. ?

Replace Your Brakes at Lone Star Toyota

Can’t catch a break? Let Lone Star Toyota of Lewisville take care of your car repairs. Our highly qualified technicians are ready to provide a range of services, from brake replacements to oil changes and more for new or pre-owned vehicle buyers. Check out the services we offer online, or call our service center at 469-645-0602 to speak to a technician about your issue. We look forward to meeting you!

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