Your vehicle’s brakes are an imperative part of driving safely. There are several components of a brake system, including, discs (rotors), brake pads, and brake calipers. Most vehicles are equipped with these 3 parts, so let’s dive in and find out what your Automotive Experts at Ben Nielsen’s Skyline Automotive say on this weeks Ask the Experts!

First, what exactly are brake pads? Most newer vehicles on the road today have a braking system that uses disc, aka rotors. On top of the rotors is a housing device called a caliper. When you engage your brakes using your brake pedal, the calipers squeeze the rotors from both sides, allowing the friction to cause the vehicle to come to a stop. Brake pads are the removable materials that the calipers use to make friction, and ultimately stop your car. Over time, the friction wears down the brake pads surface, resulting in the need to be replaced. Here are 5 signs that it is time to replace you brake pads:

1. You hear a squealing or screeching sound.

This is a very common sign that you need to get your brakes checked out. Some brake pads today are equipped with a metal wear indicator that, when exposed, creates an unpleasant sound. This is an alert for the driver to know to get their pads replaced.

2. You feel a vibration when braking.

Another clear indicator that you need to get your brakes checked is a vibration from the brake pedal when you apply pressure. This can be caused by the brake pads wearing and depositing an uneven amount of resin on the rotors. This issue is referred to as “glazing” and is an indication that you need to get your brakes serviced.

3. You notice a pull to the right or left when stopping.

If you are experiencing this happen, it can be caused by a couple of things, the most common being your brake pads wearing unevenly. Here in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area, the driving conditions are more strenuous on a vehicle, and therefore can lead to uneven wear on the brake pads. This leads to “warping” of the rotors, which in turn cause this pulling sensation. It is best to have this issue inspected by a mechanic as soon as possible to prevent other components from becoming damaged.

4. Your vehicle takes long to come to a stop.

If you are pressing down on your brakes harder than usual, this could be caused by an issue know as brake fade or brake fading. This occurs when you have an air leak in the brake hose, or a brake fluid leak. This causes the need to press down harder or longer on your brake pedal in order to get your car to come to a full stop.

5. You are noticing a frequent “burning” smell.

Burning smells can be caused by numerous components of a vehicle, your brakes being one of them. If you are experiencing a burning smell consistently it could be due to a seized caliper or the emergency/hand brake being engaged. It is best to have a mechanic inspect this issue as quickly as possible to avoid further damage to your car.

If you have any concerns about your brakes, please feel free to call or visit our Automotive Experts here at Ben Nielsen’s Skyline Automotive. Our friendly service advisors and technicians will be more than happy to help you determine if you need new brakes to keep you safely on the road!