Be it city roads or countryside highways – the importance of having good brakes cannot be emphasized enough. They can prove to be the difference between a near-miss and a tragedy.
You probably know just how crucial good brakes are to your vehicle. But do you know what makes the brake work? There’s definitely a lot more to slowing your car down than just stomping on the pedal – and that’s where brake pads come in.
Brake Pads – How Do They Work?
A typical braking system is made up of a brake disc, a brake caliper and a couple of brake pads for each of the four wheels. When you press the brake pedal, the brake pads (which are fitted onto the brake calipers) are pushed against the rotating brake discs.
The friction created by the pressed brake pads and the moving discs is what slows your car down. Simple, right?
When you think about how many times a day you apply your brakes and the speeds at which you do so – it shouldn’t be surprising brake pads wear down fast and need regular checking.
So, When Do Your Brake Pads Need Replacing?
Worn down brakes are an alarming signal for every car. Not only are you posing a threat to yourself and whoever else is in your car, you’re also additionally preparing for financial repercussions as bad brakes can damage your vehicle too.
What was initially meant to be a routine replacement (brake pads) will now turn into a hefty vehicle repair. To avoid such circumstances, here are some ways you can keep a check on your brakes.
Check For Any Noises Coming From The Brakes
One of the initial indicators that your brake system needs a check up is a peculiar noise that comes up whenever you apply the brakes. Typically, it is a whining, squealing or screeching noise that is loud enough to be heard while driving.
This sound can be traced back to a tiny metallic shim that has been fitted in your brake pads for that specific purpose of creating noise. If you reach the metallic shim, you have reached the end of your currently deployed brake pads – it’s time to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.
It May Be Dust
However, we advise hearing it for a few times before consulting a professional. Sometimes, a similar screeching noise can be a result of a layer of dust that accumulates on the brake pads. This is also the case when the vehicle is exposed to wet conditions, such as heavy rainfall. If the noise from the brakes stops after a while, then you might as well carry on without worry.
Is There A Deep Grinding Voice Coming From Your Brakes?
This is different from a screech or a squeal – this voice is characterized by a loud grind, one that is the result of your brake disc and brake rotor pushing against each other.
This is mostly due to a neglected brake pad that has worn out completely and carries costly repercussions with it. The rotor is not meant to be in contact with the disc, and doing that creates an uneven rotor surface not fit for the vehicle.
A professional mechanic might be able to even out the brake rotor surface, but in most cases, the rotor is assessed to be unusable and needs replacement – which doesn’t come cheap at all.
Inspect Your Brake Pads
One way to assess the state of your brake pads is to inspect them manually. You should be able to locate the brake pads if you look through your tire spokes – the thing compressed against the brake rotor? Yes, that’s the brake pad.
If your brake pad’s thickness measures to less than three millimetres (or ¼ of an inch) – that’s a sign you need to head to a professional mechanic soon.
Do You Feel Your Brake Pedal Vibrating?
If you drive a vehicle that comes with anti-lock braking system (ABS) technology, you may be aware of the brake pulsation the felt during a sudden stop. However, the same brake feedback should not be felt during normal braking circumstances.
A vibrating brake pedal is a sign of deformed, uneven or ‘warped’ rotors. Deformed rotors are often caused due to extended periods of hard breaking – as in the case of a vehicle being towed away or when navigating down a steep slope. The intense heat and friction that builds up in the rotors during such circumstances cause them to warp.
The vibration you feel is caused by the inability of the brake pads to grab the brake disc surface properly, as the rotors have changed shape. However, sometimes brake pedals also vibrate because of the misalignment of wheels. In either case, only an expert mechanic can provide a lasting and reliable solution.
Car Pulling May Also Be An Issue With Your Brakes
Many drivers complain about their vehicle pulling to one side when they apply the brakes. Have you ever felt like the vehicle drifts to the left, or right, as you engage the brakes?
There are multiple braking system issues that can cause the car to pull to one side:
- Stuck Brake Caliper: A stuck brake caliper will only apply friction to one wheel when the brakes are applied causing the car to pull to the side of the tire the caliper is stuck on.
- Collapsed Brake Hose: A broken hose leads to your calipers moving unevenly when the brakes are engaged, causing the vehicle to pull.
- Deformed Brake Pads: Worn down or uneven brake pads translate to different friction being applied to different wheels, causing the car to drift to one side.
If you experience ‘pulling,’ it is a signal to have your brakes checked from a professional.
It must be noted that a vehicle can experience ‘pulling’ due to reasons not necessarily related to braking issues. In any cases, an experienced mechanic is your best bet to resolve the issues faced by your vehicle.
Ipswich City Mechanical provides quality professional mechanical solutions that ensure proper brake pad replacement and brake rotor tuning in case of any damage. Our experienced mechanics assess and solve your vehicle problems in no time, ensuring you’re back on the road in no time.