DIY Brake Service: How To Check Brakes?

An adequate check and maintenance of the brakes of your car can be a crucial point not only to take care of the useful life of your car or truck but also of the safety of the driver and his passengers.

Let’s be clear, there is no fixed timetable regarding when to change or replace the brakes of the Automobile, so you should consider checking them regularly to determine the amount of wear they have. For example, if you drive in urban areas the brakes can wear out much faster than in the Rural Areas Highways or Roads since the traffic of the city forces you to accelerate and brake constantly.

So the best way to keep an eye on the brakes is to have them checked every time the tires are rotated approximately every 6 months or every 10,000 miles (16,093 km). You can also check with the owner’s manual or you can ask your trusted mechanic what is most convenient for your car model.

Signs That Indicate To Check Your Brakes

The brake pads are fortunately designed to give you signs of wear or that need to be completely replaced, here are some signs and tricks to check the brakes:

1) Listen To Your Brakes

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Have you heard a high-pitched screeching sound when you apply your brakes?

The brake pads of your car are designed to make a warning noise. This means that they must be changed or replaced. This noise is similar to a metal scraping the wheels especially when your car is running. It will be noisier at high speed when you apply the brakes. The system may need a different adjustment if the noise persists after the inspection.

However, there is one exception. If your vehicle has been idle for some time and exposed to any sort of precipitation, such as rain, snow or a carwash then moisture can cause a thin layer of rust to develop on the brake rotors. So, when you first apply the brakes, the pads pressing on the rust-covered rotors may cause that screeching sound. It is easy to get confused and mistake this by thinking that your brake pads have worn out. That is why it is advised to take a few stops until the rust is worn off and the sound gets disappeared completely. 

2) Observe the Tires

The accumulation of dust from the brakes in the tires is another common sign. The amount of dust in the tires decreases when the pads wear out. If you notice wheels look clean after the accumulation of brake dust, then they should be replaced immediately.

3) Check If The Brake Pedal Vibrates

When the brake pads are worn you can feel a vibration in the pedal when braking your vehicle or also in the steering wheel. This slight vibration can be a clear sign that the pads of your brakes need to be replaced.

If your brake pedal is vibrating or pulsating, then this may be a symptom of warped rotors. This vibration can feel similar to the feedback in the brake pedal during an emergency stop if a car is equipped with anti-lock brakes.

If the anti-lock brakes are not engaged and you still feel the vibration on the brake pedal during braking situations then it is a sign of warped rotors. Sever Braking for long periods can lead to warped rotors. This happens when you drive down a steep mountain or when your vehicle is towed. In these conditions, tremendous amounts of friction are created that heats up the rotors and cause them to warp. The vibration is felt because the brake pads are not able to grab the surface evenly. Make sure to stop periodically to allow your brakes to cool off if you want to drive in this condition.

4) Feel Your Brakes Responsiveness

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If your brakes do not feel as responsive as they used to be and if your pedal “sinks” toward the floor, this indicates leakage in the braking system. This can be a brake fluid leak or an air leak. In case of brake fluid leak, check the presence of a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked. Brake fluid is similar to motor oil, but with a less “slimy” texture.

This also leads to longer distances at the time of shopping altogether.

5) Check If Your Car Pulls To One Side When You Stop

If your car pulls to one side of the road while braking, then this may be an indication that the brake linings are wearing unevenly. There can be a foreign matter in the brake fluid that leads to this situation. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or get your fluid replaced or drained.

How to Check Brake Pad Thickness?

Today in many Cars and Trucks the front and rear brake pads are at a glance through the wheels. Carefully observe the thickness of the brake pads. If they look very thin about a quarter of an inch it is necessary to replace them.

There are also brake pads that have a groove in the center. If they are barely seen then it is also a sign that they must be changed.

So if you do not feel comfortable or confident to check the brakes of your vehicle for yourself, you can go to a mechanic workshop or to a car dealer you trust.


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