When Do You Need To Replace Your Brakes
Gas mileage varies depending on how and where you drive and the same applies for the life of your brake pads, that same friction material that is pressed against a metal rotor or drum in order to stop your car. You may wonder how long will they be able to last, but that depends on multiple factors.
If you live in a crowded urban area like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles and drive just 8,000 miles a year, you’ll have to replace your brake pads a lot more often in comparison to someone who drives 30,000 miles a year across the countryside. You use your brakes far more often in an urban setting than on a rural highway.
Unfortunately, you need to rely on your ears or the advice of a professional auto technician, because there’s no clear-cut schedule that indicates when the time for brake pads replacement has come. The majority of vehicles have to get their tires rotated at least once every six months and during this service, you should also check your brakes. An auto technician will inspect the pads’ thickness and the condition of the calipers in order to find wear.
A lot of vehicles have built-in wear sensors that scrape against a brake disc, indicating the need for brake pads replacement. The outcome of this interaction will allow the driver to hear an annoying screeching sound when applying the brakes. There are also vehicles that incorporate electronic wear indicators that notify the driver via dashboard warning when the pads reach minimum thickness, but this feature is only available on expensive luxury vehicles. That’s why it’s better to rely on regular brake maintenance inspections to know the state of your brakes.
Keep in mind that those sensors are not present in every car or at every wheel, so you should listen for squealing, metal-on-metal grinding, squeaking or any other noise that suggests wear. There are minor noises which can be eliminated by cleaning the brakes, but constant, persistent noises often mean parts are worn.
If the brake pedal pulsates under light or medium braking, this could mean wear or a warped disc. If the car pulls to one side or the other during braking or the steering wheel tugs, you might be dealing with a compromised front pad.
Other common signs include the foot going down farther, closer to the floor when applying the brakes or longer stopping distances when driving. You may not notice the downfall in performance given the fact that brake linings wear gradually and that’s where the professional and experienced auto technician can help.
The majority of vehicles have a brake warning light that is turned on every time you start your vehicle for a couple of seconds. If it turns on while driving, that is a clear sign your brake system is low on fluid due to a leak or an issue with the brake master cylinder. Keep in mind that this light is not the same one that turns on whenever you lose ABS functionality.
All new vehicles and light trucks have front disc brakes. Moreover, the majority of them have rear discs, although there are inexpensive vehicles that still come with rear drum brakes. It has become a common practice with disc brakes to replace only the brake pads and resurface the rotors if necessary so that the surface becomes even and smooth.
However, in recent times, more and more manufacturers have decided to use rotors that are thinner and lighter in order to reduce weight and save money at the same time. Discs may last through 2 or 3 times of resurfacing, but it should not come as a surprise that you’ll need new rotors along with the new pads.
The present ones may not have enough material to be shaved off during resurfacing and may not be as durable as those from a few years back. Additionally, auto repair technicians are resistant towards resurfacing rotors because this means extra time for a job. Last but not least, the quality of the job can depend on who performs it and how good is he. That’s why it is easier, quicker, and more profitable for auto repair shops to just install new rotors and pads.