A DIY Guide to Checking Your Brake Pads

You know that your brakes are critical to your vehicle’s safety, but how do you know when it’s time to replace them? When you bring your vehicle to Mavis, you can trust that you’re in good hands, and you’ll get expert recommendations on how to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

If you want to do your own health check at home on your vehicle, you can! With our expert tips on how to assess the health of your brake pads, you can decide when it’s time to reach out to Mavis for your next vehicle service.

LC Image - DIY Guide to Checking Brake Pad

Signs That Your Brake Pads Are Worn

Paying attention to changes in your vehicle is the first step in noticing when your braking system may require closer inspection. If you notice your front wheels start to take on a bronze/brown hue, there’s a chance that brake dust may have accumulated. This is caused by the pad friction material and could be from normal brake pad wear and tear, or your vehicle might have a seized brake caliper or stuck brake pad. 

If a brake warning light appears on your dash, there’s a chance it’s being caused by worn brake pads and low brake fluid, or it may be something else more serious and should be checked as soon as possible.

You may hear a squealing noise when coming to a stop or gently applying the brakes, and it is likely this noise is coming from the wear indicator on the brake pads. The only exception to this is if your brakes have recently been exposed to water, either from rain or even a car wash, in which case a slight squeak can be normal.

If that noise is more of a grinding or growling noise or you feel the brakes grab suddenly,  your brake pads might be completely worn out and your brake rotor surface may be damaged and require replacement.

If your brake pedal feels different, either soft or otherwise just not right, your brake pads may be low, or it could be something more serious and it’s time to schedule an appointment to get them checked. Knowing your own vehicle and having it checked out when something feels off is one of the best ways to stay on top of any potential problem areas with your vehicle.

What Are the Consequences of Not Replacing Worn Brake Pads?

Ignoring the signs of issues with car brakes can lead to costly repairs. If caught early, before the brake pads have worn out completely, you may be able to reuse your brake rotors, saving you the cost of replacement. If your steering wheel is already shaking when you step on the brake pedal, it may be too late. 

Sometimes damage can also occur to backing plates, calipers, and brake discs if not caught early. Brake inspections are a critical part of car maintenance that should be performed at regular intervals to ensure the safety of you and your passengers.

How Often Do Brake Pads Need to be Replaced?

Brake pad longevity will vary based on several factors, including the manufacturer of the brake pad, and driving habits. The severity of weather and temperature at your location may also have an effect on brake pad wear and brake pad life. Extreme heat or cold or driving often in inclement weather will probably require you to replace your brake pads more often than a driver in more mild conditions.

How to Check Your Brake Pads

What if you suspect something is wrong? You don’t have to be an expert to determine if it’s time to have your brakes professionally checked or maintained. Most often, you can get a feel for how healthy your brake pads are— And once you do that, schedule an appointment with Mavis to take care of your brakes professionally.

Brake Pad Replacement FAQ
Can you check your brake pads without removing the wheels?

Depending on the configuration of your braking system, the design of your wheels, and the physical design of the brake calipers themselves, you may or may not be able to check the brake pad thickness without removing the wheels. If you’re concerned there may be a problem, the only accurate way is to remove the wheels and disassemble the brakes themselves to get a good look at the complete brake pad condition.

How can I make my brakes last longer?

The best way to make sure that your brakes last as long as possible is through regular automotive maintenance and changing driving behavior. If you usually brake hard, it increases the heat and stress on your brake pads and rotors. 

Braking more gradually applies and disperses the heat more evenly, increasing the life of all the components in your braking system. Regular inspection of your brakes during routine maintenance is one of the most important services you can have performed. When you need your car to stop, you want to make sure your car actually stops!

When should I replace my brakes?

If the brake pad thickness measures and looks worn, it’s time for some new brake pads. It is strongly recommended that when brake pads are replaced, you should have all the brake system components inspected and checked, including brake lines, calipers, rotors, and fluid levels.

Mavis Is the Top Choice for Brake Replacement Services

Mavis wants to be your first choice for brake services, including brake repair, brake replacement, or when you need to get new brakes. The expert team is ready to make sure you get back on the road with confidence!