There’s no question about it: Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your car. Most brakes will last anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 miles before they need to be replaced — but that’s a pretty wide timeframe for something so vital to your safety on the road. Car owners should always be on the lookout for signs that their brakes are wearing out or not functioning properly. Here are five of the best ways to tell if you might need a brake repair soon.
- The pads are wearing thin.
Take a look between the spokes of your wheels to check the thickness of your brake pads. They should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. Any thinner and it’s probably time to take your car into the auto repair shop.
- The brakes are screeching.
The high-pitched noise you hear when your brakes are wearing out is actually an indicator called a shim — it’s annoying on purpose! If your brakes are constantly screeching, it’s time to get them looked at.
- The car pulls to one side as you make a stop.
A vehicle that pulls to the right or left side as you brake could be a sign of uneven wear on the brake linings, a stuck caliper, or something clogging the brake fluid line. At any rate, it’s a sign that you need to do a little bit of investigative car maintenance to fix the problem.
- The car vibrates when you brake.
If you’ve ever had to make a sudden stop in a car with antilock brakes, you’ll be familiar with the vibration feeling of the rotors. But if you experience this sensation even when you brake normally, it could signal that the rotors are warped or your car is simply out of alignment.
- The vehicle experiences reduced responsiveness to braking.
Do you have to push your foot all the way to the floor in order to get the brakes to kick in? Or does your car take noticeably longer to come to a complete stop? Don’t take chances — get into the shop immediately.
Your brakes are too important to ignore. Familiarize yourself with the signs of brake wear or failure so that you can stay safe on the roads, mile after mile.