Like many things related to cars, it’s best to get brake issues checked out sooner rather than later.
Experts recommend checking your brakes every 10,000 kilometres, even if nothing seems wrong. All car brakes usually need to be replaced at 30,000 kilometres. Beyond that, you should also check them if you experience the following:
Squealing or screeching brakes indicate your brake pads need to be replaced. The sound you hear is coming from a metal shim which is designed to signal when your brakes are past their prime. It’s not recommended to tackle brake pad replacement yourself.
If your car pulls to one side or another when you depress the brake, you may have a leak in the braking system, either in the brake hose or in the brake fluid tank. A second leak indicator is fluid that’s slightly less slimy than gasoline accumulating under your car while it’s parked.
If your brakes shake or pulsate, it can mean that the rotor or disc is warped or that your wheels are misaligned. It can feel similar to the ABS braking that’s engaged during a quick stop.
If you find that you need to press the brakes down further than usual on a regular basis or that pressing the brakes doesn’t lead to slowing or stopping as quickly as you’re used to in that vehicle, it’s a sign to go see your favourite mechanic.
How Professionals Check Brakes
If you experience one or a few of these things, it’s recommended that you find a reputable mechanic to help diagnose the issue. To help prepare you for your visit, here’s an overview of the steps a mechanic usually takes to check car brakes:
Car professionals raise the entire car body up so they can get a clearer look. To review the brakes, the mechanic will remove one or all of the wheels.
2. Scanning the Brake Disc
The mechanic will scan the brake disc, the metal round piece that the brake pads press onto. They’ll check to see if the disc has heavy rust, or uneven wear. A certain amount of rust is acceptable. If they notice the disc looks heavily damaged or has been worn down unevenly, they may recommend having it reground or simply replacing it.
3. Shaking the Caliper
The caliper is a metal clasp that obscures the brake disc. The mechanic will give the caliper a shake to ensure it’s properly mounted.
4. Check the Brakes
The service technician will peer through the inspection hole located on the caliper to check the brakes. From looking at them, the mechanic can tell if they’re thinner than brake pads normally are. If so, the mechanic will suggest replacing your brake pads. If you’re curious to see, feel free to ask the mechanic to show you where the pads are located and ask to see what a brand new brake pad looks like for comparison.
Being educated about car maintenance and acting proactively is a responsible choice, helping to make your drive safer. Always ask the mechanic about questions you have related to the service you’re getting.