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How to know when our brake pads need replacing

Replacing our brake pads before they wear below a quarter of an inch is vital for our own safety and others on the road. It can also end up being a lot more expensive if you don't and they wear down too thin, as it can cause damage to the other components that rub up against like the brake caliper and rotor. If these need to be rebuilt, it can cost thousands of dollars.

It can also end up being very expensive if you don't and the pads wear down too thin, as it can cause damage to the other components that rub up against like the brake caliper and rotor. If these need to be rebuilt, it can cost thousands of dollars.

Luckily there are some clear tell tale signs to indicate that our brake pads need replacing. Before we dive into these signs, let's first get a quick understanding of how our brakes work and what causes the brake pads to wear down.

When we apply our brakes, the brake calipers push down on the brake pads which push against the wall of the rotor (the rotor is the large shiny circle in the image below). This causes friction which allows our car to stop smoothly but overtime will also wear down our brake pads. Signs you might need new brake pads include;

1. The brakes become incredibly noisy

If you begin to hear scraping or squealing noises when applying the brakes it is likely your brake pads need replacing. Squealing noises can be caused by other factors, such as the caliper being loose but the most common cause is worn brake pads. The same goes for scraping noises which can sometimes be the result of loose brake pads, but the most common reason is that the brake pads have worn down completely to the metal plate. This is when things start getting expensive as the rotors may also need to be repaired or replaced.

2. Your car doesn't stop efficiently

If our car is taking longer than usual to pull up to a stop once we apply the brakes it is likely new brake pads are needed. This should be quite an easy sign to spot but also a dangerous one if we don't get it fixed immediately.

3. Your car is "pulling"

If your car seems like it has a mind of its own by pulling to one side of the road, this could indicate worn brake pads or other repair issues like your wheel alignment being off. It is quite easy to spot what the particular repair issue might be. If your car pulls to one side of the road when the brakes are applied, without you turning the steering wheel , it is likely that your brake pads are wearing unevenly and need replacing. When your car is pulling to one side whilst you are accelerating or just driving without applying the brakes, it is often another repair issue.

4. Your brake pedal is vibrating

If you press your brake pedal and it vibrates or pulsates it is another clear indicator that you need new brake pads. The vibration is caused by worn out brakes or brake pads that have been warped due to heat. In this instance, sometimes the brake pads can be re-machined to fix the problem, otherwise they will need to be replaced entirely.

If you are experiencing any of the above signs it is important to take your car into a mechanic you can trust as soon as possible.

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