The Anatomy of Healthy Cars: A Service and Repair Blog

Understanding When To Replace Your Car's Brake Pads And Discs

by Brittany Marshall

Ensuring your brakes are in good working order is essential for your safety and the safety of others on the road. However, a lot of drivers aren't clear on how their car's brakes work or how to tell if they are worn. Here's an overview of your car's braking system and some warning signs indicating they need replaced:

Braking System Explained

Your car's braking system is primarily made up of calipers, pads and discs. The calipers are positioned over the brake discs, and there are brake pads on each side of a brake disc to prevent too much friction being created when you employ the brakes and the calipers make contact with the disc. When you press the brake pedal, brake fluid is released and creates hydraulic pressure on the calipers, which forces them to tighten around the brake pads and squeeze the brake discs, which slows the wheels down.  

Signs Of Worn Brakes

Calipers don't typically experience wear or damage over the life of the car, but the pads and discs will need replaced several times over a ten year period. For optimal performance, it's best to replace pads and discs at the same time, which can reduce uneven wear. There are a number of warning signs indicating your car brakes need to be replaced. If your car vibrates when you brake, the discs are likely worn. If your car pulls toward one side when you brake, the brake pads need replaced. You may also hear a screeching sound when you press the brake pedal, and this is often a sign that your brake pads are worn down to the point where they're no longer providing a cushion between the calipers and brake disc.

If you haven't noticed any signs yourself, your mechanic may still discover your brakes need work during a routine inspection. If it's been a while since you've had your brakes inspected, you can check your brake pads yourself by looking through the wheel spokes. You'll see the brake disc just behind the wheel, and if the brake pads on either side of the disc are less than a few millimetres thick, it's time to call your mechanic and have them replaced.

Having your brakes inspected at least once a year can highlight problems before your safety on the road is severely compromised. Work on your brakes can typically be carried out on the same day as your inspection, so if you have any concerns about your car's braking system, schedule a brake check as soon as possible.  

For more information, contact local brake repair specialists.