How to tell if brakes are worn

Jul 11, 2019

How to tell if brakes are worn

Brakes are one of the most important parts of your car to keep in excellent condition. Your safety and the safety of those who share the road with you depend on them!There are many tell-tale signs that your brakes may need replacing. Here at, we want to share with you our top tips to tell if your brakes are worn.


Look at your brakes

Through the spaces in your wheel spokes, you can look at your brake pads. The outside of the pad will be pressed against a metal rotor. There should be around ¼ of an inch of pad - if you can see less than this present on your brake pads, you need to have your car inspected by a professional. They may need to be replaced.

Listen to your brakes

You can also listen to your brakes for signs of wear. If you hear a high pitched screeching sound as you apply your brakes to slow down, it’s like to be a metal shim, called an indicator. This is warning you it’s time to replace your brake pads. This screech will be loud enough to hear with the windows closed, although often it can be missed when the radio or air conditioning is on.

If your brake pads have worn down completely, a loud metallic sound that can be described as grinding or growling is caused by two pieces of metal (the brake disc and the calliper) rubbing together. This can then score or scratch your rotors and an uneven surface is created.

If you hear either of these sounds regularly, you should make an appointment with a mechanic asap.


Feel how the vehicle drives

When your brake linings are wearing down unevenly or there is foreign matter in the brake fluid, your vehicle can pull to one side when applying pressure to the brakes. Your car may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.

Reduced responsiveness or a fading feeling is when your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or when the pedal feels a though ‘sinks’ towards the floor. This could be a sign that you have a leak in the braking system; either an air leak or a brake fluid leak. You can spot easily as you are also likely to see a puddle of fluid on the ground when the car is parked.

A final way to feel a problem with your brakes is to take note of any vibration. A vibration or pulsating brake pedal is often due to warped rotors. (Keep in mind, however, vibration or pulsating can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment). Warped rotors are caused by severe braking for long periods, e.g. driving down a steep mountain or when towing. Huge amounts of friction are created under these conditions which heat up the rotors and cause them to warp. Vibration is felt when the brake pads are not able to grab the surface evenly.

Speak to a professional

If you have any concern that your brakes may not be functioning to their maximum capacity, you should always get advice from a professional mechanic or local garage. This is easy with - simply enter your reg number, give us a few details about your car and then our network of registered mechanics will send you quotes for the job. Choose the quote that suits you best.

Get a quote for brake repairs with our local garages today!


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