How To Tell If You Need New Brakes

There are lots of noises your car might make whilst you’re driving along, squealing noises from the front end though should never be ignored. This could be the first sign that you need new brakes on your vehicle.

Signs You May Need New Brakes

Front End Squealing

Are you driving along, occasionally hearing a squealing or screeching noise? Have you noticed this noise increasing in frequency, especially whilst braking? This is one of the most common noises a car might make and could be the first sign that you need new brakes.

Brake pads, as I’m sure you already know, are an essential part of your car. About 20% of brake pads have an audible indicator to alert you when they are running low. The indicator is a small piece of metal called a shim. As the rubber on the brake pad wears down the shim will become exposed, allowing it to rub on the metal brake disc during braking. The shim rubbing on your brake disc creates a squealing sound which indicates you probably need new brakes.

brake-pad-wear-indicatorIf it sounds like I’ve just described your cars noise but aren’t sure, don’t worry. You can check your brake pads without taking your wheels off. You should be able to peer through the wheels spokes and see the rubber brake pad between the calipers and brake disc. Most manufacturers recommend changing your brake pads once they get to 3mm, however the legal limit in the UK is 1.5mm.worn-brake-pads - need new brakes

More modern vehicles are likely to have a brake pad sensor, which will alert you via a warning light on your dashboard if the brake pads are running low.

Scored Brake Discs

Scored Brake Disc - need new brakesIf you weren’t able to get a clear view of the brake pads, now is the time to check your brake discs for signs of wear. You want to make sure there isn’t any scoring (circular cut marks) on your brake discs, this can mean that the rubber of your brake pads has almost completely gone.

If the brake discs have signs of scoring on them you may have noticed the front end noise turn from a high pitched squeal to a grinding or growling noise. This noise is caused by two metal pieces grinding together when braking. If your brakes have got to this stage you may also have felt some vibration through the steering wheel or brake pedal. Unsurprisingly metal on metal doesn’t stop you very well when compared to metal & rubber.

Ignoring these warning signs is dangerous, not just for you but other road users as well. Most good garages will be able to perform a quick brake inspection for free. You might not want to spend the money on a new set of brake pads and/or discs, however not sorting this out ASAP could lead to a serious brake failure.


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