For vehicle owners, maintaining the brakes is both an important safety feature and a key to a vehicle’s upkeep for long-term ownership. Strangely however, brake maintenance is often overlooked or ignored by drivers. Taking regular care of a car’s brake system helps to prevent costly repairs in the long run, and keeps a car in the best form to avoid a collision. In order to adequately maintain a vehicle’s brake system, a driver must pay close attention to the condition of the car’s brake pads. As a general rule, the more a consumer drives, the more wear on the brake pads, and thus the shorter the lifespan of the brake pads.
There are a couple of signs that let a driver know that the current brake pads need to be replaced with new brake pads. Of course, the hassle free way is to have your car maintained by Fifth Avenue Auto and we’ll remove all of the guesswork.
Sign 1: The Brake Pedal Is Pulsating
If the brake pedal is pulsating when the driver presses on it with their foot, this is often a sign that the brake rotors or drums are warped. The phrase ‘pulsating brakes’ refers to the brake vibration, or constant grabbing when a driver attempts to apply their brakes. Warping is caused by overheating. There are a number of reasons why your brakes may overheat: brake calipers not releasing, shocks weak, hydraulic hose problem, master cylinder failure, ABS controller problem, computer or senor problem, vehicle overloaded, constant severe use etc. Machining the rotors or drums may temporarily help however if the overheat problem is not eliminated the problem will return.
Sign 2: The Brakes Make a Clicking Noise
Another sign that lets a driver know that they may need some king of brake service is if the brakes start making a clicking noise upon application. This usually indicates something loose and moving that should not be such as worn caliper mounts, broken anti- rattle clips, loose bolts, loose wheel nuts etc. This can be very dangerous and should be attended to immediately.
Sign 3: The Brake Pads Appear Too Thin
There are also visual cues that drivers should pay close attention to that alerts them when they need service. A consumer can check to see if they need new brake service by looking at the current brake pads through the spokes of the car wheel. The outside brake pad is visible as the material pressed against the metal rotor. The legal minimum of the friction material on a brake pad is 1.6mm. There is a brake pad on the inside and outside of the rotor. If everything is working properly both pads should have the same thickness. The outer pad worn more that the inner pad indicates a problem with the caliper sider mounts while the inner pad worn more than the outer pad indicates the caliper piston no longer retracting properly.
Sign 4: The Brakes Make a Screeching Sound
In addition to a clicking noise, drivers should also listen for a high-pitched, screeching sound that may occur with or without the brakes applied. Some manufacturers incorporate a warning indicator into their brake friction material which will cause an unpleasant sound once the friction material is worn to legal minimum. The pitch of this sound varies and may not be heard when the radio is playing at a loud volume.
If a consumer’s car makes a similar sound once, or on very rare occasions, the brake pads might not necessarily need to be replaced. Often, when a car is sitting idle after being exposed to water, moisture causes a thin layer of rust to lay over the brake rotor. When this occurs, a driver may potentially hear a screeching or squealing sound, as the brake pads press on the rust-covered rotors. Once the rust wears off, however, this unpleasant sound stops. It is when this sound regularly occurs that drivers need to seriously consider replacing their current brake pads with new brake pads.
Sign 5: The Brakes Make a Grinding Sound
When drivers hear a grinding or growling sound upon application of the brakes, the brakes pads are often beyond replacement. The grinding or growling sound is usually caused by the metal rotor or drum and the metal back of the pad or shoe rubbing together because the brake friction material is completely worn out. This means that in addition to replacing the brake pads, a driver often needs to replace the rotors. Quite often this occurs when a caliper stops releasing properly and prematurely wears out the inner brake pad.
Sign 6: The Car is Pulling
A car pulling to one side of the road can indicate a number of different things. It could be a brake caliper not releasing and dragging the brakes all the time or it could be a steering or suspension component failure or a tire problem or even just low tire pressure. A pull situation could be potentially dangerous and should be attended to immediately.