Your car’s braking system comprises of four main components: rotors, calipers, brake lines, and brake pads. Brake pads press against rotors on the wheels to create the friction necessary to slow your car. Even though they are designed for the job, brake pads undergo extreme stress while creating friction to slow down your vehicle and need to be replaced from time to time.
Unfortunately, not every driver maintains their brakes properly, and brake failure leads to thousands of car crashes per year. Keep your passengers, other drivers, and yourself safe by replacing your brake pads when you notice the telltale signs they need some maintenance.
1. The Brake Light Turns On
Just like a check engine light, your braking system alerts you when something goes wrong with a light symbol on your dashboard. When you see the brake pad symbol, you know your brake pads have worn to a point where they need maintenance. Every car is designed a little different, but most brake symbols look like a circle with dashes around it. Consult your manual so you know what to look for.
2. You Hear Squealing
Many brake pads are equipped with what’s called a ‘feeler,’ which is a piece of metal that makes a squealing sound when it contacts the rotor. Fortunately, it does not damage the rotor, but it does make an awful noise to indicate to drivers that they need to change their brake pads right away.
3. You Feel Vibration
Something may cause the brake pad to not grasp the rotor properly, and you’ll feel vibrations when this happens. Oftentimes dirt, oil, rust, and other debris kicks up onto the brake pads and rotors which causes them to not clamp together securely. In more severe cases, your rotor may be warped and in dire need of replacement. When you feel that vibration when you step on the brakes, inspect both your brake pads and rotors because you may need to replace them.
4. Veering to One Side
When your car pulls to one side when you press on the brakes, your brake pads may have worn down unevenly. Other issues can also cause veering, but if brake pads are the culprit, replace them and your problem is solved—
rather cheaply too.
5. Hear Grinding
Grinding is a bad sign. When you hear grinding, your brake pads have worn away completely, and the rotors are damaging the brake system. Stop your car immediately and call a tow truck to take your car to the nearest mechanic. Driving your vehicle any further can result in an expensive total brake replacement.
Fortunately, you’ll generally notice other warnings before it gets to this point; but if you ignore those signs, the grinding noise is the final straw telling you that you must replace your brake pads immediately.
Maintaining Your Brake Pads
Due to natural wear and tear, you’ll have to replace your brake pads more than other parts of the braking system. That’s normal. Fortunately, catching a brake pad issue and addressing it early makes maintenance relatively inexpensive. Taking care of your car also makes it last longer. The key is to address issues right away.
Car maintenance and car insurance are parts of being a responsible car owner. The General provides affordable car insurance too, and with less hassle than most other insurance companies out there. Get a free, no-commitment car insurance quote online today.