Your car’s brakes are vital to your safety, and you need to maintain them regularly. Brake failure is responsible for 300,000 car crashes in the U.S. each year. And it’s difficult to predict how long a new set of brakes will last; it depends on driving habits and how quickly mileage racks up.
You don’t want to wait too long to replace your brakes, though. Once they start to wear down, continuing to use them can compound the damage and end up costing you more for repair work.
So, how do you know when it’s time to replace them? Here are three warning signs that you need new brakes.
1. They’re Making Noises
A telltale sign of worn brakes is when they start to squeak or squeal all of the time. Some squeaking is normal when brakes are wet from rainy or snowy conditions and the moisture hasn’t had a chance to evaporate from them yet. However, if you’re noticing they’re singing to you in all weather conditions, it’s time to have them inspected.
Having squeaky brakes means the pads are starting to get worn. If the brake pads aren’t replaced during this phase, the sound will progress to a grinding metal noise. The brake pads are now so worn that the small metal ridges on the bottom of the pad have been exposed.
Grinding brakes are more expensive to replace than brake pads, so it’s important to bring your car to a repair professional before they reach that stage.
2. They’re Less Responsive
If it seems to be taking longer for your car to come to a safe stop, and you’re pressing down deeper on the brake pedal, it is likely that your brakes’ better days are behind them. The brake pedal may also feel soft or squishy when pressing it.
If your brake pedal vibrates when you use it, you really shouldn’t delay having the brakes replaced. Vibration indicates the brake pads have completely worn out. Continuing to operate a vehicle in this condition is very dangerous and can cause you to lose control, particularly in slippery road conditions.
3. Your Brake Indicator Light Comes On
Some newer cars are equipped to alert you to a brake problem. A built-in sensor on the brake pads will trigger an indicator light when the pads start to get worn. Take your vehicle to an auto repair professional for an assessment.
You may also be able to view your car’s brake pads yourself for signs of wear. Brake pads that are less than 1/4″ thick need to be replaced.
Know The Signs You Need New Brakes
Being aware of the signs you need new brakes and staying proactive about your car’s maintenance schedule will keep you safe and prevent costly repairs. Avoid braking hard by keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you at all times to help the brakes last longer.
If you are experiencing any of the warning signs above, contact us! We’ll be happy to inspect your brakes and provide an estimate for their repair or replacement.