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Vehicle brakes are vital to your safety when driving. What signs indicate that they're wearing out?
Top Ten Signs of Brake Wear:
1. High pitched squealing
2. Vibration in the steering wheel when stopping
3. Grinding noises when stopping
4. Increased braking distances
5. Longer pedal travel
6. Feeling the car "pull" to the left or right when stopping
7. A weak emergency brake
8. A bad smell after coming to a hard stop
9. Pedal "fade"
10. Not stopping
For those who suffer a daily commute through heavy traffic, your vehicle's braking system can bring thousands of pounds of metal, plastic and empty Starbucks cups to a stop hundreds of times before you get to work. It goes without saying that these pieces wear out, but they do so slowly, meaning you may not notice they need attention until it's too late.
Neglecting your braking system can lead to increased repair costs, or worse, no brakes at all. Fortunately, paying attention to some of the signs of brake wear can keep you on top of stopping maintenance, saving you some money and keeping your car from bouncing off of the guy in front of you.
The most obvious indicator that your vehicle's brakes need attention is an incredibly high pitched squeal when you come to a stop. Brake pad manufacturers include a little piece of metal called an indicator on the pad itself. When the material wears down to the point where less than ¼ inch is left, the metal piece begins to touch the vehicle's rotor, doing a pretty good impression of fingernails on a chalkboard. Depending on how hard you drive, that usually means you should replace your brake pads within the month.
Occasionally, the indicator rusts and falls off, leaving you with no irritating noise to warn of brake wear. Additionally, many aftermarket and low-cost pads don't come with a wear indicator at all. For the more observant, there are other signs that your pads need attention. If it takes you longer to stop than it used to, or if your brake pedal travels farther than it did a few months ago, it might be a good idea to get your stoppers checked. Regular pad checks are a good idea and require little more than removing a wheel and knowing what to look for.
Rotors are a little trickier, as they can usually last through two or three sets of brake pads before needing to be replaced. If your steering wheel wiggles in your hands when you come to a stop, your rotors are probably "warped," and it's a good idea to swap them out.
Most shops will offer to "turn" your rotors for you instead of outright replacing them. This means shaving enough metal off of the rotors to make them smooth again. Newer vehicles are equipped with thinner, lighter rotors to save on costs and increase fuel economy. If you've got the option, go ahead and replace them.
There are several options for replacement brake parts for your vehicle. While you can never go wrong with what your manufacturer recommends, a variety of aftermarket parts can help you cater your brake system to your driving style. If you find yourself replacing rotors often, you might consider switching to a slotted version. While initially more expensive, the slots disperse heat better than stock, though 99 percent of the time they aren't necessary for the average driver.
Your rotors aren't the only piece of brake hardware that can be changed for better performance. One of the most common brake pad upgrades is a switch to ceramic pads. These pads stop just as well, if not better than the stock pieces, but produce much less dust and are generally quieter. While you can also install performance brake pads on your vehicle, these usually have a shorter life span and generate more wear on your rotors.
While neglecting your brakes until your car is grinding to a halt instead of gliding is always an option, it can cost you in unnecessary rotor replacement and possible towing bills. That's not to mention the likelihood of losing most of your stopping ability right when you need it most. Keeping up with brake maintenance, paying attention to the signs of brake wear and choosing the right equipment for your vehicle will let you slow down like you should.
We are a family-run, locally owned and operated dealership in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island specializing in new and used vehicle sales, and servicing all areas of the Comox Valley including Courtenay, Comox, Campbell River, Parksville, Nanaimo, Victoria and all of Vancouver Island. Call us toll-free at 1-877-458-2110.
Come visit Vancouver Island's Premier pre-owned vehicle location across from Costco and Crown Isle in Courtenay, BC. We have an exceptionally large and fully reconditioned inventory with a complete 155-point inspection on every vehicle! Hundreds more on-line to choose from. We also service all makes and models with 6 service bays. Tour our welcoming facility, meet our staff and join us for a coffee!
We are the one of the busiest pre-owned vehicle dealerships on Vancouver Island. Along with our fine line of New Mazda cars and Used Mazda vehicles, we market pre-owned import and domestic brands of quality Cars, Trucks, Vans, CUV's and SUV's - you name it and we will find it - and can help you get into the car or truck you need, no matter your current credit situation, without hassle or delay. Let us help you!
For more than 20 years, Courtenay Mazda has been a trusted and respected used car dealer in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. We are dedicated to ensuring that you go far in a used car or truck, and it starts with an exclusive inventory of quality, reliable used cars and trucks, and a financing service that can provide you with guaranteed approval, help you restore your credit, and get you the best rate possible for your needs and situation.
Courtenay Mazda - MVSA Certified #40158