| Car Life
a man works on a car's brakes

They stop us quickly and keep us safer on the road. Brakes are essential to our vehicles working properly. Here’s some basic information and the simple brake maintenance tips that will keep your car safe on the road.

Check your brakes 

Check your brakes periodically to keep up routine maintenance on your vehicle. At a minimum this should be done at least once a year – plan a brake check at the same time you get your tires rotated. A thorough brake inspection should include brake pad/lining wear, your brake fluid level, rotor thickness, condition of hoses and brake lines, as well as your brake lights and dashboard warning lights.

The brake pads are what assist your car in stopping the wheels from moving, along with the rotor. The brake pads wear down with time from continuous wear from creating the friction necessary to stop a vehicle.

Replacing brake pads is a normal part of car maintenance. Here are some clues to tell you that your brake pads may need to be replaced. If you are able to see your brake pads without removing wheels or other parts, it makes an easy way to check your own brakes. In other instances, your wheel may need to be removed to check the brake pads.

  • If the brake pads have 1/8” or less of padding, it’s time to replace them.
  • The rotor disc should be shiny and may have some lines, but if you see grooves and rough spots, you may need to have the rotor replaced.
  • Check for brake dust, which can be on your front tires and around on your car. If the brake dust suddenly disappears, it could be a sign that you need to replace them immediately and they are completely worn.
  • If you hear a metallic screeching noise when you brake, it could be a key indicator that you need a brake pad replacement.
  • If you feel your car shake, grind or pull to one side when you hit the brakes, it could be a sign that they need to be checked out.

Check brake fluid

Brake fluid is a clear type of hydraulic fluid used in your car’s brake system. Brake fluid is able to absorb heat and disperse it throughout the brake system.

Brake fluid can also absorb water, which can cause damage to other parts of the brake system, so it’s important to change the brake fluid when it starts to become a dark color. You can check your brake fluid under the hood of your car. Check your owner’s manual for the type of brake fluid needed for your vehicle.

Signs of brake problems

It is important to be alert to signs that you might be having problems with your brakes. Clues that something’s wrong with your brakes include:

  • Your brake warning light comes on (including the ABS warning light)
  • Unusual noise when you apply the brakes – especially grinding or squealing noises
  • Your car’s response when you hit the brakes  – such as if your car pulls in one direction or another, or shakes
  • The feel of the brake pedal – such as if the brake pedal is too soft (goes to the floor when you press the pedal) or hard (hardly moves when you press the pedal)

Buying brakes

When it comes to replacing brakes, there are some people who can determine which brakes and what kind need to be replaced on their vehicle. For the rest of us, a mechanic is the best solution when it comes to replacing brakes. Here are some tips to get the best deal when buying new brakes.

  • Take your car to a local mechanic to determine if your brakes need to be replaced. The mechanic can help determine if it’s your brake pads, brake discs or both. It’s commonplace to have your brakes replaced every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.
  • Get one or more quotes before you decide to have the work done on your car. You may find that another reputable mechanic can do the job for a more affordable price. Make sure that you ask questions and can even ask to see the parts that need replacement to see if they are worn. Make sure the mechanics guarantee their work.
  • Schedule your appointment to have work done at a convenient time, and if it’s going to take a while, make arrangements for transportation.
  • After your brakes are replaced, it’s time to pay the mechanic. Many places offer payment arrangements, so ask before you commit to a price.

Whether you are looking for online car insurance or motorcycle insurance, put on the brakes and stop on by at Direct Auto for a car insurance quote or motorcycle insurance quote. Visit one of our convenient locations or call  1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732).

Learn more…

Do It Yourself: How to Change Your Brake Pads [VIDEO]