It goes without saying, our brakes are easily one of the most critical components of a motor vehicle for ensuring safety, to not only you and your loved ones, but also our fellow road users. One of the first things my father taught me was to not ignore any signs of brake wear and to have them looked at as a matter of urgency.
On the blog today, we thought we would look at some of the common signs that you may hear or feel that can be a sign that your brakes may need some attention.
Brake squeal or grinding:
Squealing brakes can happen for several reasons. Sometimes it is simply that the brake pad or disc material has just formed a glaze on the surface or has reached a hard spot on the brake pads that is causing an annoying squeal. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is an issue with your brakes, and they may be operating as per normal. It may also mean that the brake pads have worn out and the disc rotor may have worn down below its minimum thickness and may require replacement.
As the brake pad wears down, most brake pads have a small metal clip attached to it that is designed to alert the driver that the brakes need attention. Once the pad wears down, this small metal clip contacts the disc rotor and makes a loud and constant high pitched scraping type noise. It is now time to have your brakes inspected and likely replaced.
The next stage of brake wear is when the pad wears down completely till the point there is no pad material remaining and the backing plate of the brake pad is now contacting the disc rotor letting off a horrible grinding noise. This is now meaning the brakes have worn down to “metal on metal” and it is likely the brake pads and the disc rotors will need replacing as the disc rotor is likely damaged beyond repair.
Brake vibration or pulsation:
One of the other common symptoms of worn brakes is brake vibration or pulsation. In the early stages, this is typically noticed when applying the brakes at high speed and/or when travelling down a large hill. As the brakes are applied, a vibration may be felt through the brake pedal and/or through the steering wheel.
This is caused by disc rotors which have warped. Warping typically occurs from a disc rotor that has worn to undersize and from variations in temperature that is typical of general wear and tear. As the disc rotor begins to wear further and greater warping occurs, the driver may experience vibrations at all speeds and road variants.
If you are experiencing brake vibration when driving, it is likely your brake pads and disc rotors will require replacement to rectify this issue.