Signs Your Brakes Need To Be Replaced

The Sound Of Metal GrindingWe all have a habit of letting our brake pads wear down because they are expensive to replace, but that’s no excuse. If you let the pads wear down where the metal backing plate grinds against the rotor it’s not a good sign and must be replaced. Not doing anything can damage the brake calipers if the pistons have slid out too far when hitting the brake pad material. We have put together some of the signs to help you recognize you have an issue. You will understand the various brake components and why it’s time to get new brakes.

Squealing Sounds

Squealing Brakes

That squealing noise comes from your brakes when you apply pressure. It’s the vibration from the metal rotors, drums, or brake pad backing plates. This sound is caused by corrosion that builds over time on non-contact, perimeter areas of rotors, and drums as rust is looser and less dense, therefore more likely to cause a squealing sound.

Another source of squealing is when the lip forms along the outer edge of the rotor surface because brake pads do not come in contact with this area. As the lip becomes more pronounced, due to wear, the surface will be deeper. As the lip becomes pronounced making contact with the brake pads you will hear the sound because they do not have rounded corners. Extremely cold temperatures can cause the rotors to exaggerate the effect. Hot weather under repeated heavy use will lead to metal expansion causing more contact where there should be none.

The Sound Of Metal Grinding

You will hear grinding when worn metal brake pads hit the rotor. Manufacturers are now putting small metal ridges into the bottom of the brake pads. When the brake pads wear down and become thin, the ridges make contact with the rotor producing a metallic grinding noise to alert the driver it’s time to replace the brake pads. Also, brake pads that are worn to approximately 25%, should be replaced depending on how often you apply the brakes.

If you have a 3mm thickness left, you have very little time for a replacement. At 1 or 2 mm, it’s time to schedule an appointment.

While visually examining the brake pads it’s important to keep in mind that the outboard pads on the side of the rotor are easy to see but the inboard pads are located on the other side of the rotor not easy to see. You will have to remove the wheel or climb underneath.

The inboard pads may wear out faster depending on the application. If you see the side through the wheel spokes that might not be the best sign of how the pads are worn. It’s important to understand, putting a new set of pads on deeply dished rotors can cause the edge of the new pads to rub the lip causing more squealing than the previous set did.

The Warning Light Comes On

Brake Warning Light

Most brake pads come with a built-in sensor. When the pad is new, it’s 12mm thick but eventually, it will be 3mm when the metal sensor will be exposed and make contact with the disc. In turn, this will cause squealing and could set off an electronic sensor and set off the warning light on newer cars.

Clicking Sounds After Depressing Or Releasing The Brakes

This sound is caused by the brake pads shifting around incorrectly. There is no concern that the pads will break away from the vehicle. These pads are pressurized between the caliper and brake rotor with a built-in anti-rattle clip that locks them in place. Over a period of time, the steel spring clips can become brittle and break, causing the brake pad to become loose causing a vibration and clicking noise when you brake. Usually, this will happen when the pads are wearing out unevenly. This is a sign to replace them as soon as possible if not immediately.

Wobbling When Slowing Down

Usually, wobbling is a result of rotors becoming warped. With every rotation of the wheel, the warped section of the rotor pushes against the pads in a side-to-side motion. The wobbling is sent from the brake calipers to the wheel hubs, axles, suspension sub frames, and even the vehicle’s frame.

One way to make sure the vibration is coming from the front rotors is if the steering wheel is also wobbling at the same time as the brakes. If you feel the wobbling in your seat, it’s coming from the rear rotors.

Rotor vibrations can also be caused by spots of corrosion that are embedded in the rotor surface when your vehicle sits in a moist environment for a good amount of time.

The formation of heat spots or glazing on the rotor surfaces after the iron compounds in the rotor change composition is caused by repeated heat build-up.

To get rid of warping, an edge lip, or spots, rotors can be taken off and ground flat on both sides using a special lathe. The process involves removing a lot of the thickness across the entire rotor surface. It is important to know what your vehicle manufacturer’s minimum rotor thickness should be. The rotor may still contain enough metal to absorb and diffuse heat build-up without warping, glazing, or fracturing. If rotors are below minimum thickness after re-surfacing, they need to be replaced as they will quickly become warped again.

The Is Car Pulling To One Side When Braking

This usually happens when the brakes grab somewhere on one side of the car more than on the other side. There could be several reasons:

Usually, this is caused by calipers or wheel cylinders on the drum brakes had become corroded and no longer moving as they are supposed to when applying pressure on the brake pads.

Car Pulls To The Side

Another reason could be caused by brake fluid leaking onto a rotor or drum surface. As brake fluid is not a lubricant, it will create a sticky surface that will create even more friction and cause a brake on one side to pull harder than the other side.

Also, the proportioning valves that direct brake fluid pressure in the system might be at fault but the likelihood is less.

If the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor, fluid compression is not building up the way it should because there is a leak somewhere in the system. If the brake fluid cannot be detected at any of the wheels or along the brake lines, the master cylinder assembly under the bonnet is probably to blame.

The master cylinder houses pistons which push the fluid through brake lines out to the wheel brakes. Most often, the internal seals are damaged reducing fluid movement inside the master cylinder with no signs of leaks.

At some point, the brake pedal is extremely difficult to depress, your brake booster is compromised. In either case, your immediate attention is required and the vehicle should be towed to your mechanic to correct the problem as quickly as possible.

When you have new brake parts, you will not have to contend with pulling, shaking, poor stopping power, squealing, or the embarrassment from other drivers watching you.

If you are having issues with your vehicles brakes you can get your vehicle checked and the issue diagnosed and resolved by booking online today. Visit our Brakes Servicing page.

For further information on our services you can browse the site or get in touch with us by calling 019253 30468 or you can email us directly at At Lowton Motor Company we service all vehicles produced by all the top manufacturers from the a Ford to a Porsche and everything in between. Our experienced technicians have access to and traning with all the latest technology. You can be sure your vehicle is in safe hands whether it’s in for a repair, a service or just the annual MOT.

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