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When to Replace Brake Parts

CarPart  ·  November 26, 2018

When to Replace Brake Parts

Brake parts have a life expectancy, and they need to be regularly checked to ensure your safety.

Below I've listed some signs to look for. Some of these signs mean that your brake system needs a quick fix, while others are more urgent signs telling you to immediately visit your car mechanic. 

Signs of Brake Problems

Your brakes are among the most critical safety components of your vehicle, so the following signs should immediately serve as fair warning of faulty brakes.

1. Squealing, Squeaking or Grinding Noises

The sound is a signal that it's time to replace the brake pads immediately to avoid damaging the rotors. A damaged rotor can be very costly to fix, especially for cars using ceramic or perforated discs.

It could be just some gravel or a rock caught in the calliper unit, but if it's been a long time since the last servicing on your brake system, it's likely brake pads that are worn-through causing a metal-on-metal sound.

Grinding sound could also be an indicator of lack of oil in vehicles with rear drum brakes. The brake shoe (that part that presses on the rotor to slow the car) could be scraping on metal contact points like the backing plate.

If you hear any of the above sounds, then you need to get your brakes checked right away to avoid more expensive problems later and to ensure you and your family's safety.

2. Wobbling, Vibration or Scraping when Braking

Brake rotors are discs sitting inside the wheels, attached to your hub and bearing (in between the callipers). When you hit the brake pedal, the brake pads hug the rotors, slowing down your vehicle. You want rotors to be smooth and even in thickness.

Over time and after thousands of wheel revolutions, it's normal for the rotor surface to get slight variations. Rust can also sometimes develop. During brake servicing, the face of the rotor is often machined (smoothed and evened out) to correct these flaws.

This work has to be done precisely to your vehicle's specifications. The tiniest differences in disc thickness — we're talking thousandths of an inch, about three sheets of paper in width — can cause a wobbly feeling when you brake.

An uneven rotor surface may also cause the rotor to hit one of the brake pads as it spins, creating some of the pad material to transfer onto the rotor in that spot. Then you'll feel shaking when braking, as the pad hits that bump in the rotor.

Due to wear from heat or road debris, the piston can get sticky. It may not retract the pads back into the full "off" position when you let up on the brake pedal.

Any time tyres are removed, the lug nuts must be put back on in the right order, evenly, at just the right tightness. It has to be done in a star pattern, with only the correct pressure. If not, you'll get uneven, premature rotor wear and be back for servicing sooner rather than later.

3. Leaking Fluid

If you're experiencing a soft brake pedal, let an auto mechanic check it for you, the mechanic will look for brake fluid leaking from the master cylinder or elsewhere in the brake system.

The master cylinder is the centre that creates the power for your brakes. It has a space like the one for your wiper fluid that contains brake oil. 

When you apply the brakes, this oil is pushed through thin pipes, creating hydraulic pressure. If the fluid is leaking from this system, there may not be enough power to force the brake pads to clamp hard to the rotors.

4. Spongy or Soft Brake Pedal

If you sense a difference in the resistance in the brake pedal — it feels "softer," or sinks to the floor when you press on it — it's a sign you need immediate brake service. 

There could be air or moisture in the braking or a problem with the master cylinder. Generally, in cars with power brakes, the pedal should stop 1 to 1 ½ inch from the floor. If you have manual brakes, the pedal should stop more than 4 inches from the floor.

Know more about managing your brakes and read about brake bleeding, brake fluid flush and how much it costs, prevailing brake pads price, and other car part topics.

If you're buying new brake parts or other auto parts, you may refer to CarpartAU's platform. 

We took the hassle out of searching for car parts, so all you need to do is fill out a form. We will then send your request to hundreds of sellers who will then send you their quotes so you could choose the best deal! Neat, right? Try it now! 

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