Stop Right There! Heed These Warning Signs That You Need New Brake Pads and Rotors
How often do you think about your brakes? If you’re like most drivers, not that frequently. However, they’re critical to safety on the road, whether you’re driving a Jeep or an INFINITI. Let’s look at a few signs that it’s time to replace your brake pads and rotors.
The first sign that something’s wrong with your brakes is likely to be a metallic squealing or screeching. If you hear this sound when you press the brake pedal, it’s a sure sign that your pads are wearing thin. A small metal shim, called a wear indicator, is attached to your brake pads so that when they wear down to a certain point, the shim contacts the rotor and makes noise to alert you.
If you press your brakes and you hear a grinding or growling sound, it’s well past time for your brake pads to be replaced. Chances are good that the pad has worn through and the backing plate is not contacting the rotor, and you may need to replace the pads and resurface the rotors on your vehicle. Note that in cases of severe wear, you may need to replace both the pads and the rotors in this situation.
Another sign of brake wear is pulling to the left or right when you apply the brake. This can happen with Subaru, Lexus, and BMW models, as well as any other vehicle with disc brakes. However, it is not necessarily a guarantee that your pads are worn out. It usually indicates uneven pad wear, and it can also occur if your brake fluid has been contaminated.
Brake Pedal Pulsation
If you feel a vibration or pulsing in the brake pedal when you press it, chances are good that your brake rotors are warped and need to be resurfaced or replaced. Many things can warp rotors, but it’s most commonly caused by heating the rotor through use (using your brakes) and then driving through a puddle. This causes rapid expansion/contraction of the rotor and may cause it to warp.
Warping can also be caused by using your brakes for a prolonged period. For instance, driving down a steep grade, such as a mountain, and keeping your foot on the brake pedal can cause the rotors to overheat and warp.
When you press the brake pedal, you expect your car to slow down. However, if your pedal feels like it sinks to the floor, or that you have to press on it very hard to get the brakes to work, it’s an indication that something’s wrong. It’s most likely related to low brake fluid, but it could be that your rotors and pads are overheated.
How to Protect Yourself from Worn Brakes
Because brake pads and rotors wear slowly over time, it can be difficult to tell when it’s time to replace them. The best defense is simple: have them inspected at every service. This goes beyond simply eyeballing the pad thickness, though. Your service provider should measure the remaining pad thickness and condition of the rotor so you know precisely when to change them.