Waiting last minute for brake repair in Albany, NY can not only be harmful to other parts of the vehicle, but also very dangerous. Therefore, it’s important that you are able to identify the signs that it’s time for new brakes. Granted, a couple of these signs could also be associated with other issues, which is why it’s also important to not assume that it’s just your brakes. Squeaking or squealing noises coming from either tire whenever you step on the brake is a good indication that your brake pads are starting to go, and vibrations or grinding whenever you step on the brakes are a good indication that your brake pads are basically gone. Checking and seeing worn pads is the most obvious sign on this list, and you can tell simply just by running your finger over the rotor and feeling for any rough spots.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to get your brakes changed immediately. Because letting it get worse is dangerous to you and others on the road.
Squeaking or Squealing Noises
Squeaking or squealing noises whenever you step on the brake is easily the most identifiable sign of brake pads wearing down. As the actual pads on the brakes wear down and get closer to the backing, the metal backing ends up grinding against the metal rotor. This is that squeaking or squealing noise you hear.
It starts off as barely audible at first. The squeaking as you step on the brakes is probably drowned out by the radio you have playing. Even without the radio, you might be able to notice it if you brake in a quiet area where there isn’t much traffic. As the pads continue to wear down, the squeaking will get louder. Eventually, it will even create more of a squealing noise as you hit the brake pedal.
It’s important to note that as soon as you hear the squeaking or squealing noise, you need to change out your brake pads immediately. If you don’t, they will eventually grind or vibrate whenever you step on the brake. Not only does this mean it’s dangerous to attempt a fast stop, but it’s also damaging your rotors.
Grinding or Vibrations
If you step on the brake pedal and feel grinding or vibrating, then you’ve let it go too far. At this point, that means there is little to no pads left on the brakes, and you are grinding the metal of the backing on the rotor. Not only is this annoying, but it’s also damaging to your rotors. The rotors are the part of the wheel that the brake pads clamp on when you step on the brakes. This is what stops the car. If you have no pads left on your brakes to help grip the rotor, stopping the vehicle on time becomes more of a challenge. Since there is no grip, the metal on metal action actually creates a “slippery” and smooth contact.
On top of all this, the metal that pokes out through the brakes will begin to damage the rotors. But, we’ll get to that a little later.
You need to pay attention if the grinding or vibration is constant. That means regardless of whether you step on the brake pedal or not, there is a noise. At that point, it’s not your brakes that are the issue. Most likely, it’s a stuck caliper causing the problem. When a caliper gets stuck or locked in place, it doesn’t release when you take your foot off the brake. This could be because it was put back on wrong during the last brake job, or it could be because there is something wrong with the new caliper.
Either way, grinding or vibrations on a car are bad signs. If those sounds aren’t coming from the tires, you need to get your vehicle into a shop and have the technicians identify where the noises are actually coming from.
This is the most obvious way to determine if you need new brakes, that is, if you know how to check the pads. You might be surprised by how many people don’t. On a lot of cars, it’s possible to look right through the rims and identify the brake pads. If you can still see the pads (the thick chunk of material that’s sitting against the rotor) then you are good. If they are starting to get thin — or you don’t see any pads — then you need some new ones.
If you can’t see through the rims, then it’s really easy to take the wheels off and check. Find a safe place to jack the car up, remove the lug nuts holding the wheel in place, then take the wheel off. After that’s down, you’ll be left with the rotor (a big circular disc) and a caliper secured over the brake pads. Now, you should have plenty of room to see if there is any thickness left to the pads or not.
Also important to note: uneven wear on the brake pads (if one side wears out faster than the other) indicates an issue with the caliper or the way the brakes were installed.
If you’ve been hearing a squealing noise or feeling grinding and vibrating whenever you step on the brake pedal, don’t be surprised to discover that your rotors are slightly damaged. So, don’t be surprised about dishing out extra money for rotors during your next brake job as well. Checking for a scored rotor is really simple. All you have to do is run your finger down the side of the rotor. If you feel any rough spots or lines, that means the rotor was starting to score. A rotor in really bad shape will have deep gouges in it, but you should have identified the issue and changed out the old brake pads long before that happens.
These are four simple signs that it’s time for new brakes. Make sure you don’t ignore any of them because doing so is dangerous to you, and harmful for the rotors on your vehicle.