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How Do I Know If I Need To Replace My Brake Pads?

The most important thing to know about replacing your brake pads is that it can be a serious risk to wait too long. Brake pads play a very important role in the effectiveness of your brakes, so when in doubt, err on the side of caution and check your brake pads regularly.


Brake pads undergo lots of wear and tear in daily driving and are one of the most crucial elements of keeping your car’s essential functionality working properly.

There are several symptoms of worn brake pads that will let you know when it’s time. Below is a list of the most common:

  1. Squealing, Grinding, or Growling Noises

  2. Many disc brakes include a part known as the wear indicator. This indicator is a small piece of metal which is attached to the surface of the brake pad. Over time the brake pad is worn away until the wear indicator makes contact with the rotor.

    When this occurs, the brakes emit a squealing, grinding, or growling noise of metal scraping against metal, this signals that the brake pads are due for replacement. This is why it is never a good idea to ignore noisy brakes.

    If the noise becomes very loud, it may mean that the brake pads have completely worn down and the disc and caliper are scraping together as you apply the brakes. This can cause serious damage to your brakes and must be corrected as soon as possible.

  3. Visual Signs

  4. A worn brake pad will leave clear marks on the brake rotor in the form of deep, circular shaped grooves. This scoring will look something like the grooves on a record and, if they get too deep, you may need to replace the rotor or have it machined to create a new even surface.

  5. Vibration

  6. A vibration of pulsing in the brake pedal is a strong sign that something is wrong with the brake rotors. Warping of these rotors usually occurs due to misalignment of the vehicle and means that the brake pads are not gripping correctly.

    The sensation is something like the feedback a brake pedal provides during a panic stop when the anti-lock brakes are engaged, except that it occurs in normal braking situations. Often caused by severe breaking for long periods – like driving down a mountain – it occurs when a large amount of friction causes heat damage and warping. In these situations it is a good idea to have the entire assembly inspected and, if necessary replaced, by a qualified and experienced mechanic.

  7. Pulling or Fading

  8. If your vehicle begins to pull to one side while braking, this is usually a sign of uneven wear in your brake pads. You will need to have your brake pads replaced as well as having your brakes adjusted to correct whatever alignment issues caused the uneven wear.

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