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How to Check Your Brake Pads: DIY Care Care

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Learn How to Check Your Brake Pads

How to Check Your Brake Pads Car DIYImage via Flickr

Your brakes are what enable your car to stop, but unfortunately, many people neglect taking proper care of them. Proper brake pad maintenance and inspection is not only essential for the life of your car, it can save your life and the lives of your loved one. Checking your own brake pads is not as hard as you may think it is. This article will teach you how to check your brake pads so you can ensure your brakes are always working at their top performance level. 

Why Check and Replace Brake Pads?

The brake pads are the primary part of a car’s braking system that requires regular maintenance. Regularly inspecting the pads will help the longevity of your brakes and your car, as well as the safety of your car. In addition, worn out brake pads can cause your rotors to become damaged. And if your rotors become damaged, you are looking at a much more expensive repair as far as your braking system is concerned. 

How Often Should I Check My Car’s Brakes?

A good rule of thumb is to have your brake pads professionally checked each time you have your tires rotated – usually about every 6 months. Of course a lot depends on how and where you drive. If you do a lot of your driving in a city, the frequent slowing down and stopping will cause your brake pads to wear out faster than if you mainly drive in a rural area. Likewise, if you tend to drive fast, and hit your brakes hard, then your pads will wear out faster than someone who drives slower and brakes more gently. 

Of course it is always a good idea to check your car owner’s manual or talk to a professional so you know what’s best for your particular vehicle.

How Do I Check My Brakes?

As I am sure you know, almost all brake pads are designed to provide clear signals when they need to be replaced. Most common is a high-pitched squealing sound when you apply your brakes. You may also hear a sound like metal scraping in the wheels when the car is moving, This sound will get louder as the brakes are used. If you hear either of these sounds, it is time to take your car to a professional to have the brake pads replaced. Below are a few additional ways to check your brake pads:

1. Look at the wheels

Have you ever noticed a black dust like substance on your wheels? That is brake dust, and it is another sign of wear. As the brake pads continue to wear out, the amount of that dust will actually decrease. So if you notice that your wheels look cleaner after seeing previous brake dust accumulation, that could be another sign that your brake pads need replacement. 

2. Look at the Actual Brake Pad 

Observing the actual brake pad is another way to tell if the pads need replacing. in most cars you can see the brake pad through the wheel. You will want to look at it to determine the thickness. If the pad is less than 1/4 inch, it is time for new pads. Additionally, some brake pads are designed to have a slot in the center that serves as a wear indicator. Look at the slot; if it is almost gone, the pad needs a replacement. 

3. Pay Attention to How Your Brake Pedal and Steering Wheel Feel

When brake pads are worn out, you can sometimes feel a vibration in the brake pedal when you are braking. Additionally, a vibrating steering wheel is another clear sign of needing new brake pads.

Paying attention to the above signs, and learning how to check your brake pads, are a great way to know when it is time for new brake pads. However, if you do not feel comfortable checking your pads, then you should visit your local dealership, repair of mechanic who can do it for you.

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Marcus Coons

Monday 10th of July 2017

I had no idea that it was recommended to have your brakes checked every six months. It makes sense that taking the time to do this can help you make sure you avoid accidents with your car and that you don't damage your braking mechanism with old brakes. Personally, I would want to make sure I consult with a professional I trust so I can understand how to take care fo my brake pads and how to make them last as long as possible.

Kody Loveless

Monday 19th of September 2016

I will have to go out and look at my breaks. I guess I will have to go out and see if the pads are at least 1/4 of an inch. I think I will just take my car to the shop. I am hopeless with that kind of stuff.

Alaina Bullock

Tuesday 20th of September 2016

I totally get it! It can be so much easier just to take it in!

Justin Knox

Wednesday 3rd of August 2016

Thank you for the help. I just recently replaced the brake pads on my car and want to be sure to maintain them well. I like your idea to inspect the brakes every 6 months, as you suggested. I will be sure to be in a better habit of maintaining my car brakes. Thanks again.

Judy Wilson

Monday 9th of May 2016

Thanks for these tips for checking my brake pads. It helps to know the exact thickness to pay attention to know when I should change my brakes. I should take a look at them in case my pads are less than 1/4 inch thick.

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