5 Signs Your Brakes Need to be Replaced

car braking

You think a lot about our car’s engine, but how often do you think about what stops it?

Using the brake is second nature to any seasoned driver, but until you have to pull an emergency stop, it’s easy to overlook just how often your vehicle’s most important safety system is being engaged.

Like anything in your vehicle, brakes need maintenance.  Brake pads thin over time, making them less effective.  By keeping your brakes up to date can help you avoid costly repairs in the long run – not to mention collisions.

The good news is that even if you have never so much as looked under your car before, there are a few key indicators to let you know when it’s time to get your brakes looked at

Strange Noises Brakes

1. Strange Noises

Turn that radio down!  A high-pitched squeal or grinding noise is often the first sign your brake pads are in need of an adjustment or replacement.

Brake pads come equipped with a wear indicator – a metal plate designed to scratch the brake disc once the pads have worn down beyond a minimum thickness.  Accompanying this is a tell-tale screeching sound designed to get the driver’s attention. (In some cases, it’s purposely designed to sound like nails on a chalkboard, so good luck ignoring it for very long.)

Hear grinding? Now things are a bit more serious – that’s the sound of metal on metal.  When this happens, it means the brake pad’s fiction material has completely worn away, and the brake pad’s backing plate is now grinding directly on the rotor. Not only does this make stopping less effective (read: safe), but you will more than likely have to replace your rotors as well.

Keep an inexpensive job from becoming an expensive one. Get your brake pads replaced as soon as your hear a high pitched squeal.  And if you hear grinding, pull over and make an appointment to bring your vehicle in immediately!


brake warning light

2. Brake Warning Lights

Keep an eye on your dashboard! There are any number of reasons a brake warning light can turn on – including worn brake pads, a burnt out brake light bulb, low brake fluid, or one of those embarrassing moments where you started driving with e-brake on.

While some brakes rely on a mechanical wear indicator (as mentioned above), certain brake pads come equipped with an electrical sensor that signal when a brake pad’s wear level has been exceeded. In this case, a designated Brake Pad Warning Light will appear on the dashboard.


car braking

3. Brake Pedal Resistance

Brake fluid plays an important role in the function and maintenance of your brakes.  Each time the brake pedal is pressed, fluid transfers the force of your foot on the pedal to the brake pads. The more worn down the pads, the more fluid required to generate the necessary force to stop or slow-down.

Likewise, low brake fluid will impact the ability of your brakes to respond to inputs on the pedal.  It’s important to get your brake fluid levels checked regularly!

If you’re brake pedal is hitting the floor every time you stop, it may signal worn brake pads or an issue with the hydraulic system – such as air in the brake line, or a brake fluid leak. In this case, it’s best to bring your vehicle to a professional.

Steering Wheel Vibrating

4. Vibrations

If your steering wheel or brake pedal vibrates while braking, your brake rotors may be the source.  Warped rotors reduce the efficiency of brake pads, wearing them down faster. If you have noticed strange tremors while driving, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to get your brakes examined.

Occasionally, vibrating can be a sign of misaligned wheels, which can lead to serious (and expensive) problems down the road. Fortunately, Searles is currently running a Spring & Summer Maintenance Promotion that includes a tire rotation and comprehensive multi-point visual inspection.



5.  Pulling

Does it feels like a ghost is taking the wheel every time you hit the brakes?  When a vehicle veers to one side while stopping there’s a good chance something is wrong with the brake system.  Pulling can happen for a number of reasons, including stuck brake calipers, a collapsed brake hose or uneven brake pads.

It should be noted that pulling can also come as a result of worn tires, poor alignment or a problem in the vehicles suspension.

Whatever the reason, if you notice your car pulling, be sure to take your vehicle to a repair shop immediately.

At Searle’s Auto Repair, your safety is our goal. You can rest assured that all brake repairs and services will be performed by highly trained professionals who use only quality parts. All of our work is backed by our Peace of Mind Warranty.

Give us a call at 1-250-475-2000 or schedule an appointment online.



Learn More:

 All About Brakes: Staying Up On Brake Maintenance 

The Top 4 Automotive Repairs You Need a Professional For

The Top 5 Ways to Wreck Your Car


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