Over the life of your vehicle, you are going to have to replace your brakes a few times. Often, it can be tricky to tell for sure that it is time to replace the brake pads. But, if you let them go unchecked for too long, you might end up with a vehicle that is unsafe to drive and needing more work than just the pads replaced.
Brake servicing is a routine maintenance task you can’t ignore. Brake parts have a lifespan, and they do need to be regularly serviced and sometimes replaced. Fortunately, your vehicle usually gives you some obvious signals that your brakes are due for maintenance. Sometimes, it is in the form of harmless noises that don’t require repairs or have simple fixes – other times, they will need more substantive work.
Your vehicle’s brakes are one of its most important safety elements. If you notice any of these warning signs of brake issues, it is time to get a professional to check your vehicle. You will be driving safer and ward off more expensive fixes.
Here are some symptoms that can let you know it might be time to get your brakes checked:
- Pedal feels soft or spongy underfoot
- Longer stopping distances
- Brake light or ABS light comes on when braking
- Vehicle pulls to one side while braking and is difficult to control
- Brake pads have worn down
- Low brake fluid could be a sign that there is a leak
- Shudder or pulsation through the brake pedal while braking
- The tendency for one or several wheels to lock and skid when braking
- Excessive brake pedal travel, with the pedal having to go almost to the floor before brakes engage
- Groaning, squealing or metallic grinding noise while braking
- Pulsation or shudder through the steering wheel when braking
Of these symptoms, the metal-to-metal grinding noise is the worst. It indicates that the friction material of your brake pads has worn off to the point of the rivets that hold them to the steel backing plate becoming exposed. The only way your vehicle can brake is through metal-to-metal contact. That causes the rivets to dig deep grooves into the rotors quickly. We recommend replacing rotors with pads for several reasons, but in this situation, replacing them is an absolute necessity.
Depending on your vehicle and driving style, your brake pads will generally last 60,000-95,000 km. As a general rule, it is a good idea to have your brake pads inspected twice a year. If you see they are thinner than a quarter of an inch, it is time for a brake job.
Brake parts are bound to wear out over time, and self-diagnosing symptoms or delaying brake servicing could put you and your passengers in unnecessary danger. And, like with a lot of automotive issues, the longer you put off fixing it, the more you risk a bigger repair bill.