Brakes are one of the most important components of keeping your car safe to drive. However, many car owners don’t know when to change brake pads. Moreover, too many go too long between brake pad replacement. Let’s take a look at exactly how brakes work and when exactly you should change your brakes. Plus, we’ll help you get your brakes checked for free at Xpress Lube!
Brake Parts and How They Work
The most common part of your brakes that will need replacement are the brake pads. They are just a single part of your overall brake system, though. To have fully functional brakes, your service technician should inspect all parts of the brakes to look for wear and tear.
There are two types of brakes that passenger vehicles can have:
With a disk brake system, your wheels connect to a rotor. When you press the brakes, your brake pads push on either side of the rotor, which in turn causes the wheels to stop rotating. Many vehicles have disk brakes on their front wheels even if they have drum brakes on the back. Though, some vehicles do have all one type or the other.
On the other hand, drum brakes have a drum with a brake shoe inside. When you press your brakes, the shoe presses against the inside of the drum which again stops the wheels from turning.
All of these components, along with the calipers that hold the pads in place, brake lines that transport fluid to cause the car to stop, and the master cylinder which pumps the brake fluid all need regular inspection.
When to Change Brake Pads
Both brake pads and brake shoes last anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 miles depending on your driving habits and your vehicle. In some cases, they may last longer. Brake pad replacement and brake shoe replacement are both fairly simple brake repair jobs.
Rotors typically need replacement every 15,000 to 70,000 miles. This is such a large range because it again depends on your driving habits and the make and model of your vehicle. Drums typically last the lifetime of the vehicle, but can develop issues in some cases. You don’t need to replace your rotors or drums whenever you replace your brake pads. However, you should ask your mechanic to inspect them each time to look for warping, cracking, or other signs of damage.
How to Make Your Brakes Last Longer
Yes, there are things you can do to go longer between brake pad installation and other brake repair appointments. Here are a few tips to make your brakes last longer:
- Downshift if you are going down a very steep incline instead of riding your brakes.
- Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you so you don’t have to stop as quickly (ie, don’t slam on your brakes).
- Choose quality brake products like the brands we use at Kernersville Auto Center and have them professionally installed.
- Flush your brake fluid regularly to make sure it is clean and filled to the proper level.
- Get rid of extra weight in your vehicle when you don’t need it. Avoid hauling items and instead unload your vehicle as soon as possible when you do need to haul heavy items.
- Avoid stop and go traffic whenever possible and instead look for less congested roads.
Although it might be tempting to put off a brake job as long as possible, keep in mind that the best way to avoid big car bills is to maintain your vehicle well. When you need new brakes, schedule your appointment as soon as possible.
Signs You Need a Brake Job
Some vehicle repairs sneak up on you. You don’t know anything is wrong until you’re broken down on the side of the highway or you wake up one morning and your car won’t start. Luckily, brakes aren’t like that. Your brakes will tell you when it’s time to schedule brake maintenance. Here are the most common signs you need new brakes:
- Squealing noises when you step on your brakes: This is one of the most common signs that you need a brake job, but other strange noises such as clicking can also indicate you should bring in your car.
- Vibrations when you press the brakes: This is a sign that that your brakes are working harder than they should have to to make your vehicle stop.
- Taking longer than normal to stop: All vehicles take a little longer than normal to stop in less-than-optimal conditions, such as ice or even rain, but in normal conditions, taking a long time to stop completely means your brakes are worn out.
If your brakes are grinding to a stop, this is a sign that you need to come in immediately, as it means metal is touching metal. The grinding you’re hearing and feeling means that the brake pad is completely gone. Continuing to drive your vehicle in this condition is very unsafe.
FAQs About Brake Replacement
If you make an appointment to change brake pads, we can answer any questions you have about your brakes. Here are a few we commonly hear:
Do I have to change all four brake pads at once?
We recommend changing your brake pads in pairs (front or back) or changing all four at once. If your brake pads are wearing extremely unevenly from side to side, this could indicate other issues we need to handle along with changing your brakes. It’s typically not a good idea to change only your right or only your left brakes.
What happens if I don’t replace my brakes?
This is one maintenance task to never put off. Eventually, the metal will be grinding against metal which makes it very hard to stop your vehicle. Additionally, you could lose braking power altogether, leading to a very dangerous driving situation.
Can I get my brakes inspected for free?
Yes! If you aren’t sure if you need new brakes, come into Kernersville Auto Center today for a free brake inspection. We can inspect your vehicle and make recommendations based on the wear we see on your brakes. Click here to schedule an appointment.