When you own a car, you have to be a surveyor of its condition all of the time. One of the most vital components of a car, is the brake system. Now that you’re searching for ways on how to tell if you need new brakes, we have the information that you need FAST!
Many modern vehicles are outfitted with brakes on all four wheels. These brakes are operated by a hydraulic system. That may be either drum or disc type. A vehicle’s front brakes play a larger role in stopping a vehicle, than the rear brakes. The reason is that when a car brakes, the weight of the vehicle is thrown to the front. Therefore, many vehicles are equipped with disc brakes-that are traditionally more efficient. Systems that are all-disc braking systems are placed in some of the most high-performance and expensive vehicles. All-drum systems can be found on smaller and older cars.
A vehicle’s brake hydraulic system is a system that has fluid-filled pipes able to multiply force. When you depress on your brake pedal, your foot moves a lever forcing a piston into a long, narrow cylinder that has hydraulic fluid in it.
How To Tell If You Need New Brakes- What Are The Signs?
When it’s time to get new brake pads/brakes, there are some tale tell signs that you can look out for.
Your Eyes and Ears Can Share Lots
Auto manufacturers know that a vehicle’s brake life will vary, depending on an array of driving conditions. Keeping that in the forefront, many vehicles will offer drivers both audible and visual warning signs new brakes/brake pads need to be installed ASAP. You first want to look between your wheel spokes. Check out if you have visible brake pads down there. You might be able to get a view of the outside pad as it is pressed against the rotor. After you’ve located the brake pad, see if you can check out its thickness. If you have measurable brake pad- at least ¼ of an inch of pad, then your brake pads are likely alright. But if you have a brake pad that is a bit less than ¼, then it’s time for you to visit a mechanic soon.
How Do I Know If My Brakes and Brake Pads Are Worn Out?
For many drivers, the most obvious sign that it’s time for new brakes/brake pads is that annoying squeaking sound. We have all been guilty of letting one or two squeaks “slide” as we secretly hope that the squeaking will disappear. But soon, that squeaking turns into a “churning” sound. Then, after a few weeks, you hear that loud grinding sound. The time for new brakes is NOW. Regarding squeaking- there may be a slight chance that the squeaking is due to your car being parked in humid or wet conditions. While driving in wet conditions or humidity, you may experience some squeaking coming from your brakes. But it never hurts to take your car to a mechanic and isolate your squeaking issue.
Problems With Responsiveness
Another issue that may indicate that it’s time for new pads/brakes, is lack of responsiveness. If you notice that your brakes are slow to respond as you decide to stop- or if you notice that your brake pedal feels a bit loose, then there may be an issue with the vehicle’s brake line. The problem may lie within a brake fluid leak. You may also have air that’s trapped in the brake line too. Brake fluid looks quite similar to motor oil, but it’s not as thick as motor oil. Be sure to check for a leak. You can do so by moving your car after it’s been parked. If you see fluid on the ground, then you have a leak.
Is your vehicle drifting to the left or the right as you try to come to a complete stop? Then this may be a sign that some of your brakes and pads are better than other brakes. Pulling or drifting when braking can also be a sign that there’s an issue with the brake fluid. Regardless of where the problem lies, you should get to a mechanic and have him or her check your brake system for a complete and honest diagnoses.
Brakes That Are Grinding
Brake grinding- we’ve all experienced it and it is very unnerving. You come to a stop on the street and you hear that annoying grinding from your brakes. We all know that the grinding sound is very different from the squeaking sound. And once you enter into the “grinding zone”, then it’s time to get to a mechanic right away. That ugly grinding sound from the brakes of a vehicle means that the brake pads are all worn down and are just about beyond replacement. The grinding sound you’re hearing is caused by the metal caliper and the metal brake disc are rubbing together. Chances are, your rotors need to be turned, or perhaps even replaced should this occur.
Another indication that it’s time for new brakes/brake pads is vibration while braking. The vibration can indicate that your vehicle’s rotors are now warped. Many drivers describe the vibration as a pulsating sensation. Warped rotors are the result of harsh braking conditions that put excess and prolonged friction on the braking system. An example would be towing heavy objects or even steep mountain declines.
Your vehicle’s brake system is one of the vehicle’s most vital components. Regular maintenance is a must and the signals that indicate brake service is needed will keep further issues at bay. Ignoring or overlooking brake issues can lead to very expensive repairs and less-than-ideal braking performance.
Do Car Brakes Work When The Engine Is Off?
Your car brakes will still work when the engine is off. But they will not work the same as they would under ordinary driving conditions. Instead of the brake system being engine-assisted like common driving, the braking pressure will only come from the pressure that you place on the pedal.
What Are Signs Of Bad Rotors?
Is it time for new rotors? We have some signs you can watch for that indicate you may need new rotors for your car.
Vibrations from Your Brakes
A symptom of faulty brake rotors is vibration from the brakes. Warped rotors may vibrate and cause vibrations that a driver can feel in the car pedal. Sometimes the vibration can be felt in the vehicle’s chassis too. Warped rotors may also create a pulsating feeling that can be felt in the pedal once the brakes are applied.
Noise From the Brakes
As we mentioned before, the grinding and squealing coming from your brakes can indicate that you need new rotors. Typically, warped rotors create a squeak; but tremendously worn rotors will create a scraping sound.
Score Marks or Grooves on the Rotor
Another symptom of failing rotors are the grooves or the scoring that can be seen on the face of the rotor. Scoring or groove marks can acquire on the rotor over time, from constant contact with the brake pads. Grooves within the rotor can limit the rotor’s ability to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Drivers can also feel a pulsation and vibration feeling as the pedal is pressed. For rotors that are grooved or scored replacement is the answer.
How Many Miles Should Brakes Last?
While it’s impossible to state an exact number that your brakes should last, an average brake life is between 20,000 and 65,000 miles. Brake life depends on the driver and his or her driving habits. Take the time to listen to your vehicle and get regular maintenance to your car.
What Are Some Of The Aspects That Affect Brake Life?
All of us are different kind of drivers and our driving habits determine our brake life. But there are some general aspects of driving and car activity that affect brake life. Some include:
Brake Material and Composition
The composition and material that your brakes are made of, can affect your brake life. Carbon-ceramic brakes can offer more life than standard metal brakes; you just have to pay a bit more for these kinds of brakes. Talk to your mechanic about your driving habits and the kinds of brakes you need for your car. Are you a driver who uses your car for work and you do a lot of stopping and starting? Then you may need to spend a bit more on quality brakes. Are you a driver who only drives when necessary? Then you may be able to purchase a less expensive, yet effect brake system.
Are you a “city driver” who stops and starts a lot? Then, you may need more brake jobs than normal. Highway driving equals longer brake life, while city driving means shorter brake life.
Driving Habits- “Heavy Footed Drivers vs. Light Footed Drivers”
What kind of driver are you? What kind of “brake foot” do you have? Are you a driver that has a “heavy foot” and presses on the brake pedal with force? Or are you the kind of driver that has a “light foot” and gently yet forcibly presses on your pedal? If you brake with a hardness as opposed to pressing gently on the brake, then there may be a bit more brake replacement jobs in your future.
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