maintenance March 17, 2017

When do I need new brakes?

Keeping your brakes in good working condition can prevent costly repairs down the road, and more importantly, keep you and your vehicle safe.

Your brake calipers, brake pads, and brake rotors are the primary components of car disc brake systems. The brake pads on all vehicles eventually wear out. It is hard to specify exactly when you will need new brake pads, as there are multiple contributors to how they wear. On average, brake pads need to be replaced every 50,000 miles, however some need to be replaced after 25,000, while others can last for up to 70,000 miles. There are a variety of factors to consider, including:

  • Your driving habits: The pressure you put on your brakes affects how long the brake pad will last. Smooth, gradual braking will help your brake pads last longer.

  • Environment: The DC Metro area is known for stop and go traffic. Driving during rush hour or in the city is harder on your brakes and will cause them to wear quicker than country or long roads, where braking is less frequent.

  • Brake material: Steel or other metal brakes are the most common material, but carbon-ceramic brakes last longer than standard metal brakes.

5 signs your brakes need to be replaced:

1) Worn Brake Pads - You can look at your brake pads through the spaces between the wheel's spokes. The outside pad will be pressed against a metal rotor. Generally, there should be at least 1/4 inch of pad. If you see less than 1/4 inch of pad, you may want to have your brake pads inspected or replaced. If you are unsure, we welcome you to visit any Wiygul location for a free visual brake inspection.

2) Loud Noise - If you hear a high-pitched screeching sound when applying your brakes. Every car has a brake indicator that creates a warning sound when you need to replace your brake pads. If you hear it regularly, quickly make an appointment with your mechanic.

3) Soft Brake Pedal - If your brakes are not performing well or if the pedal "sinks" toward the floor, this could be a sign of an air or fluid leak. An easy way to identify a brake fluid leak is to check for liquid under your car. Brake fluid looks similar to fresh motor oil, but with a less "slimy" texture.

4) Pulling - If your vehicle "pulls" to one side while braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or that your brake fluid needs to be drained and replaced.

5) Grinding Noise - You hear a grinding sound. This loud sound is indicating that you have worn down the brake pads completely, most likely beyond replacement. The grinding noise is caused by the two pieces of metal (the disc and the caliper) rubbing together. This can scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, you will most likely also need to have your rotors replaced.

Keep your brakes functioning properly to allow safe, predictable braking and driving. If your vehicle is showing signs of needing new brakes, we recommend you schedule an appointment at one of our 8 locations.

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