Brakes are one of the most important systems on your vehicle. They allow you to properly maneuver and keep you and your passengers safe. It can be hard to determine whether the noises you hear from your brakes are the result of something simple, or if they are a warning sign of coming break failure.
Whether you race at the track, drive full time for work, or just commute to work and back, your vehicle needs a reliable, well-performing set of brakes. As the components of your brake system age, they can be complicated to maintain and problems can be hard to diagnose. Regardless of whether you do-it-yourself, or you have a trusted repair center, we are here to help.
If you do use a repair shop, and your service technician recommends a brake repair, be sure to complete it as soon as possible to avoid damaging other braking components, or putting yourself or others in danger. Whether you need a simple brake inspection, brake pad replacement, or more in depth work on the brake system we can help arm you with the knowledge and/or projects to get the job done, and get it done right.
For a better idea of what could be causing your brake troubles, read on below for answers to common brake questions.
How long do brakes (pads, shoes, rotors, drums, etc.) last?
Brake pad and shoe life depends on a wide set of factors depending on the type of pads / rotors or shoes / drums you have on the vehicle. Pads or shoes typically last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Brake rotors or drum can last as much as 3-5 times as longer. Other factors can have a dramatic effect. These include the brake component materials, driving style, driving conditions, weather, brake system maintenance, and more. If you’re in the market for new brake pads, consider comparing both the length of time, and the mileage warranties available from top brands.
Why are my brakes squeaking?
Brake noise is one of the most annoying things that can happen with your vehicle. Brake noise may be indicative of a weak or worn component in your brake system, and the noise may be your first warning of imminent brake failure. Many brake systems include wear indicators installed in the brake assembly that are only exposed once the brake is worn down to a certain thickness. Indicators are commonly made from metal shims or tabs which contact the brake rotor while you drive resulting in a high-pitch noise that warns you that your pads need to be replaced.
Brake squeaking and squeals can happen from wear, dusty conditions, glazing, crystallization, humidity, or even rocks or other material getting between the brake surfaces, but if your brakes are consistently making noise, we recommend you have your brake system checked and serviced, if needed. Do-it-yourselfers often can resolve noisy brakes, as the component surfaces can often be sanded down with common sandpaper to eliminate glazed surfaces.
Excessively worn and noisy pads are likely to cause premature rotor damage and can lead to brake failure. It is best to avoid expensive, and at worst extremely dangerous, brake failure by properly maintaining your brake system.
My brakes fade (seem soft) or vibrate when I apply them. What should I do?
If your brakes pulse when you step on the pedal, it is most likely caused by warped or excessively worn-down rotors. Warpage can occur due to excessive brake overheating, or other Worn out suspension parts and large bearing clearances could also be the cause, but you may need to have your rotors turned or replace some suspension components.
If your brakes are soft, or get softer as you brake, this is known as “brake fade”. Brake fading happens when your brakes absorb too much heat to function properly. When you press on the brakes your vehicle slows by applying friction between the brake pad and rotor, which gets converted into heat. If your brakes get too hot they will lose their capacity to generate any more friction. The best brake pads and shoes have superior heat resistance and dissipation, so they can stand up to the heaviest-duty braking situations such as racing or towing. High performance brake pads and rotors are also often designed with enhancements such as vents, slots, and advanced materials or compounds which enhance their ability to resist high temperatures.
My brake components are rusted? Will they still work?
Rust accumulation on brake rotors and other components can very widely and largely depends on use, the region you are located, seasons or weather, the brake brand, coatings, and other factors. Mild surface rust is usually not a concern, and some forms of rust in a vehicle braking system are actually quite normal, and no cause for alarm. Unless the vehicle has been sitting for a very long period in a wet climate, or is used very infrequently over many years, rusting will usually only result in a thin layer and exists only at the surface of the steel rotor or drum. It will disappear after a few moments of driving as the brake pads rub it off.
What are brake pads?
Brake pads are a component of your cars braking system, and are a consumable part of the “disc brakes” used in automotive and other applications. Brake pads are a simple part composed of steel backing plates with friction material bound to the surface that faces, and contacts, the disc brake rotors when you apply pressure to the brake pedal.