Signs You Need New Brakes
August 22nd, 2016
It’s easy to take your brakes for granted. The ceramic or semi-metallic material of brake pads wears very, very slowly – it can take 60,000 miles for brakes to wear to the point of needing replacement. When anything changes or wears that gradually, it can be easy to not notice when your brake performance is starting to decline due to wear.
Here are some sure signs of trouble, though:
- Excessive brake pedal travel: the pedal goes much farther toward the floor than it used to before the brakes engage
- Pedal slowly sinks towards the floor while holding the vehicle stopped and in gear
- Longer stopping distances
- Pulsation or vibration that can be felt through brake pedal or steering wheel while braking
- Tendency for one or more wheels to lock up and skid while braking
- Pronounced pull to one side while braking
- Groaning, squealing or grinding noises while braking
Of these, the noise is by far the worst. Sometimes you might hear a slight squeal or growl while braking on a wet day…this is fairly normal. If you hear a metal-to-metal grinding noise, however, that means one of two things.
Some brake pads feature a wear indicator, a tab of spring steel that sticks out at a right angle from the pad’s backing plate and is designed to drag on the rotor when the pads reach a minimum thickness. So, it could be the wear indicator you’re hearing…or it could be that your brake pads are worn down to their steel backing plates and rivets, and the rivets are digging into the steel surface of your rotors. That means that all of your braking ability is coming from metal/metal contact, and your smooth brake pads are quickly getting ruined. Either way is not good!
On most newer cars with alloy wheels, it’s fairly easy to inspect the brakes. Look through the spokes of the wheels and see if you can see the pads themselves on the caliper – remember that front brakes wear much more quickly due to the weight transfer of the vehicle while braking. If there’s less than ¼” of material left on the pads, it’s definitely time to replace them.