Brakes are essential to keeping drivers safe on the road. Your braking system requires routine care, especially brake pad replacement. So how can you tell when you need new brake pads? Our local mechanics are here with a look at 5 signs you are due for brake pad replacement.
1: Unusual Brake Noises
Why are my brakes squeaking? While a few potential issues can cause squeaky brakes, this is likely a sign that you are due for new brake pads. In these cases, the squeaking is caused by the brake wear indicator. These are small metal tabs on your brake pads that extend to the safest level of brake pad wear. Once your brake pads are worn out more than the safe limit, the tabs will begin squeaking against your rotor to let you know you are due for service.
What if your brakes start making loud metallic or grinding noises? These noises are signs that your rotor is coming in contact with the caliper because your brake pads are badly worn out.
In both of these cases, it is best to visit a mechanic right away for service.
2: Slower Stopping Speeds
Your brakes are designed to help your vehicle slow and stop on the road. This crucial function is essential to keeping you safe on the road. If you notice your brakes becoming ineffective, it is time for new brake pads. Signs of ineffective brakes include:
- Taking longer to stop
- Having to press harder on your brakes
- Find it challenging to keep your distance in traffic
Of course, your brakes rely on several different vehicle factors, from your brake fluid to your tires. Here is a quick reference guide to potential underlying causes of ineffective braking.
3: Service Routine
Take a look at your owner’s manual for recommended brake service routines for your vehicles. Most cars will need new brake pads every 40,000-50,000 miles. However, this service can depend on several factors, including:
- Driving patterns: Aggressive driving with heavy acceleration/braking patterns will lead to more frequent brake pad changes.
- Roads: City roads with more braking will lead to more frequent brake pad changes.
- Brand: Your brake pad brand/quality can affect your routine brake maintenance.
4: Signs of Warped Brake Rotors
As you press your foot down on the brake pedal, it pushes your brake pads into your car’s metal rotors. This friction and heat can make the rotors malleable—bending and warping the metal. Your vehicle is especially prone to rotor warping if you wait too long to get your brake pads replaced. Why? Low brake pads will make it more challenging to slow and stop your vehicle, requiring you to press harder against the rotors. Signs of warped brake rotors include:
- Vibrating, shaking, or shuddering brake pedal
- Steering wheel shaking each time you brake
- Squeaky brake noises
5: Visual Inspection
Brake pads need at least 1/4th of an inch of fictitious material to be effective. To check your brake pads, you simply need to glance between the holes of the wheels. However, it is also easy (and free) to ask a mechanic whether or not you are due for new brake pads.
Do Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Require Brake Pad Replacements?
You might be wondering if these same brake pad replacement routines apply to electric and hybrids? The short answer is no.
Electric and hybrid vehicles use regenerative braking systems, which absorb the energy created by braking and convert it into battery power. As such, the brake pads absorb very little of your braking friction. Unfortunately, you are not entirely off the hook for brake pad replacements.
In electric and hybrid vehicles, including Teslas, you will need to be more cautious of brake pad age rather than thickness. After 5 years, the adhesive of the brake pads can become unreliable, marking a potentially dangerous braking situation. As such, it is best to get your brake pads changed every 5 years, even if they are still in a safe range of thickness.
Chapel Hill Tire Brake Pad Replacement
When you are due for a new set of brake pads, the local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here to help with our comprehensive selection of brake services. Our local mechanics serve the greater Triangle area with 9 locations across Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. The Chapel Hill Tire also commonly serves surrounding areas, including Knightdale, Cary, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, Morrisville, and beyond. You can make an appointment, browse our coupons, or give us a call to get started today!