How Do I Know When to Change My Brake Pads and Rotors?

September 23, 2021 9:39 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Brake maintenance often goes overlooked by car owners, but it shouldn’t. Your brakes are what bring your vehicle to a safe stop, so it’s crucial that you do everything you can to keep them in good condition.

This means regularly changing your brake pads so you can stop your vehicle smoothly, and ideally replace damage to your rotors and other brake parts.

Here’s an overview of some warning signs you need new brakes:

  • Squealing sounds: If you hear some strange squealing sounds every time you apply the brakes, this is a sign that your brake pads are likely wearing down past their usable point. There are wear indicators built into the brake pads—these are metal tabs located near the tops. When the pad wears down to a certain point, the indicator hits the rotor, which creates an audible signal to the driver that means “change the brake pads.” If you ignore this noise for too long, that squealing noise could turn into a grinding as the rotor starts taking the brunt of the damage during the braking process.
  • Longer stopping time: Does it feel like it takes longer to bring your car to a stop than it once did? This is a problem mechanics often refer to as “brake fade.” Usually this is a result of trying to apply the brakes over longer distances without fully bringing the vehicle to a stop. This is necessary in some circumstances, such as if you’re driving down hills or through winding passages, but if you do it frequently, it will likely damage your braking system. The brake pads and rotors will heat up due to the long-term friction they’re exposed to, which will reduce the friction and their ability to bring the car to a full stop as quickly as you’d like.
  • Clicking sounds: Like squealing sounds, clicking sounds can signal trouble with the brakes. If brake pads somehow become loose, they can start to rattle, which can create a sort of clicking noise. If left unaddressed, this problem could result in the brake pad completely detaching, which would quickly result in significant rotor damage.
  • Car pulling to one side: If you notice the nose of your vehicle pulling to either side when you apply the brakes, this could be a sign that you need to change out your brake pads. This usually happens if the brake pads wear out at different rates. If the problem doesn’t get corrected, you will put a lot of extra stress on your steering rack, steering knuckles, wheel bearings and ball joints. Therefore, you should have a mechanic inspect your vehicle as soon as possible to resolve the issue.
  • Unusual vibrations: If you’re getting strange vibrations when you apply the brakes, this could be a result of the adhesive on the brake pads melting on the rotors and forming a layer on the surface of the disc. This issue, referred to as “glazing,” can cause annoying vibrations.

For more tips about how to check your brakes and change your brake pads, contact the team at Auto Air & Heating, Inc. today.

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