When Do You Need to Replace the Brakes on Your Car?
When the brakes on a car really do desperately need replacing, the chances are it will be pretty obvious to even the most inexperienced driver. The problem with waiting until that point to replace them is it could well be too late to prevent an accident happening as a result of your brakes not being up to the job. There are a number of component parts of a braking system that need replacing as a result of natural wear and tear, but brake pads are what need to be replaced most commonly and regularly. So, to help you know when it might be time to change brake pads on your car, here's a guide to brake pad replacement and the importance of making brakes part of any regular car maintenance regime.
Distance driven and type of driving
Generally speaking, brake pads on a regular car will probably need to be replaced after about 50,000 miles. However, some might need to be replaced after as few as 25,000, while others can last for a long as 70,000 miles. It also depends on where and how you drive. Stop/start driving in the city can be much harder on brake pads than lots of motorway driving, but regularly driving with a full load of passengers or towing a heavy trailer up and down steep hills also puts a lot of wear on brakes. The only way to know for sure is to consult your owner's manual or an expert on your vehicle.
Although it might sound completely obvious to pay heed to a warning light, it's amazing how many people assume a warning light is likely to be a dashboard failure, and not the problem the light is designed to warn them about. If your brake warning light appears on your dash or you have a car with a screen displaying a warning message about your brakes, it really is time to get your brakes checked out.
Steering wheel feel
All you should feel when you apply your brakes is deceleration, so if you apply your brakes and you feel something untoward through the steering wheel, it could be a problem with your brakes. If you experience wobbling, scraping or excessive vibration while breaking, it could be a warped disc or a worn pad. But don’t confuse the feeling of ABS brakes juddering when braking in slippery conditions, as that's what they are supposed to do.
Sounds that just don’t seem normal, such as squealing, squeaking or grinding are a very common sign of worn out brakes pads. Brake pad indicators are steel strands that run through the pads that become visible when the pads are worn, so unpleasant sounds are a common sign that they're making contact with the disc. But if it’s a kind of grinding sound you're hearing, and there's a feeling of something unusual through the brake pedal, it might be a foreign body such as a piece of gravel stuck in the caliper.
Leaking brake fluid
Fluid on the road underneath your car, especially directly behind the wheels, could be hydraulic brake fluid leaking from the master cylinder. If the brake pedal also feels soft when you’re driving, that's another tell-tale sign that there's not enough fluid in the system. Low brake fluid reduces the amount of power available for applying brakes, so it has to be resolved as it certainly won’t get better and go away on its own.
An acrid burning smell is a very clear sign something is seriously wrong with your car, and to be fair, it could be one of a number of different things. But if the smell is particularly noticeable after some repeated hard braking, there's every chance it's either overheating brakes or an overheating clutch.
For more information or to make an appointment to have a professional check your brakes out, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today at Kearys Motor Group.