Basic car maintenance is a skill all drivers should have, but few actually possess. Unless you are leasing a vehicle with mandatory service dates, many people neglect to service their car until something actually goes wrong. Unfortunately, at that point they have either been involved in an accident or are facing damages that will cost far more to repair than preventative maintenance would have.
One of the most common culprits causing that situation is brake pads. That’s why we are going to detail the basic warning signs all owners should look for in their brake pads, and when it’s time to actually replace them.
There are a few clues that brake pads give that prepared drivers can pick up on when driving around. These are the top three things to watch out four when driving your vehicle around.
Sounds: Brake pads are actually designed in such a way that they make a noise when they wear down to the point that they need to be changed. The noise usually sounds like metal scraping on the wheels and occurs when the car is in motion. These sounds tend to get louder the more the brakes are used.
If you hear a loud scraping noise, get your brake pads changed! If the noise continues after switching out your brake pads, be sure to check for additional problems.
Bad Vibrations: When brake pads become worn out enough the vehicle’s brake pedal will actually begin vibrating when braking. This vibration can often be felt in the steering wheel as well. If you notice vibrations when braking, this is a clear sign that something is wrong with your brake pads. Get them checked as quickly as possible!
Warning Light: While this is our most obvious tip, it’s still worth mentioning. If your brake warning light comes on, you need to get your brakes checked as soon as possible. That light is usually triggered when brake fluid is low. It’s imperative that you don’t allow your car to completely run out of brake fluid.
If you suspect that your brake pads need to be replaced, there are a few things you can physically look for.
Dust: Brake dust accumulates on vehicle wheels over time and is nothing to worry about. However, if it seems like your wheels are dirtier than usual, or cleaner than usual, that could be a sign that your brakes are not operating as efficiently as they should be. If that is the case it’s important that you get your brakes checked as quickly as possible.
Check the Pads: Most vehicle wheels actually allow you to see the brake pad through the wheel. Take the time to take a quick look at your brake pads every few months. If they seem really thin it’s time to get them replaced. The general rule of thumb is if your pads get down to less than ¼ inch thick, it’s time to have them replaced.
Brake pads are incredibly important and easy to maintain if you remember the tips we’ve listed above. Replacing brake pads is a quick and affordable fix, but if you ignore the warning sides and leave old pads on too long you could be looking at far more expensive problems. Save yourself the money and the headache by staying ahead on your basic car maintenance.