3 Signs You Need New Car Brakes
Your brakes are one of the most critical safety systems on your car, and paying attention to the warning signs that indicate you need new car brakes could mean the difference between life and death.
Did you know that when driving on the highway at 60-plus mph it will take approximately the length of a football field (100 yards or 91 meters) to come to a complete stop — and that’s only if you’ve kept your brakes well maintained. So how do you know if you need new ones?
Car brakes will start making a very distinct noise when they’re in need of replacement. Usually it is a scraping noise, or a high-pitched squealing and screeching. This is caused by a small piece of metal called an indicator in the brake pads that has been put there as a way to let you know once your brakes are worn down to a certain point. To check, turn off the air conditioner and radio, roll down the windows, and drive around the block. If you can hear a scraping, squealing or screeching sound while braking, you need to check the brakes more carefully.
Keep in mind though, there is one event that can confuse drivers about brake decay. If your car’s brakes come in contact with water on a frequent basis, a thin layer of rust can build up on them. When you apply the brakes, you may hear a screeching sound. This is actually a common occurrence and nothing to worry about. You can tell the difference between a layer of rust and your brake indicator because when you apply the brakes the layer of rust should start to tear away and the noise will stop once the rust is gone. However, anytime you hear a scraping noise, it’s time to check the brakes.
It Takes Longer to Stop
If you notice that it is taking longer for your car to come to a full stop, it’s possible you need new brakes. When you apply your brakes, the pads make contact with the rotors. Over time, their ability to produce the needed friction to slow your car down and eventually stop is reduced. As a result, you’ll find that your car won’t come to a complete stop as rapidly as it once did.
Pulling to One Side
Brake pads don’t always wear out at the exact same rate. Sometimes, the pads on one side will get thinner faster than the ones on the other side. When this happens, your car may pull slightly to the left or right once you hit the brakes.
Check Your Brake Pads on a Regular Basis
It’s always a good idea to check your pads on a regular basis. In many cars you can check your brake pads yourself to see how much wear they have incurred. On most cars it is relatively easy to see the brakes through the spokes of the wheels. Look carefully and you will see a circular brake rotor with an outside pad. According to J.D. Power, that outside pad should be no less than one-quarter of an inch thick. If you see less than one-quarter of an inch of brake pad, it is time to get them checked and replaced.
If you notice one of the above signs, or you can see that your pads have worn down, take your car to a certified mechanic to have the brakes inspected and changed. Many dealerships, like Central Avenue Auto Group, have their own service department where their mechanics can check and replace your car’s brakes quickly.
Image courtesy Andrew F via Flickr