When it comes to the brakes on your vehicle, having them checked and replaced doesn't necessarily follow the same schedule as having your oil changed, for example. While a manufacturer might suggest that its brakes will last you a certain number of miles, the reality is that your driving style can greatly influence your brake life – and if you find yourself accelerating sharply, stopping suddenly and tapping your brake pedal, your pads and rotors will have a significantly shorter life than suggested. Given that you can't simply schedule your brake replacement well in advance, you need to be aware of the signs that your brakes are wearing out. Here are three.
Different Sounds During Braking
Brakes can produce different sounds depending on the amount that they're wearing out. Early on in this process, it's customary to hear your brakes squeaking a bit as you apply them; this sound can get louder as the brakes continue to wear. Later on, the squeaking can give way to a grinding sound that indicates your pads are nearly completely worn. Be vigilant about noticing these sounds and visiting a brake shop as soon as you notice them. It's beneficial to drive with your radio off and your window open from time to time, as doing so will give you a clear idea of any sounds that are being produced.
Difficulty Holding Your Braking Line
When they're in good shape, your brakes will stop your vehicle in a straight line. However, when they're approaching the end of their useful life, you'll often notice that it's difficult to hold your braking line. As you apply the brakes, and especially if you're putting heavy pressure on the pedal, you might have to turn the steering wheel slightly to avoid your car pulling to either side. In addition to this symptom letting you know that your brakes are wearing out, it's also a sign that the wear is uneven.
Vibration From The Brake Pedal
Your toes can often pick up on a sign that your brakes are failing – in many cases, worn-out brakes will cause your brake pedal to vibrate. Vibration is especially common in the case of brake rotors that have become warped from the heat, as the braking will be uneven and cause the vibration. The sooner you visit a brake shop, the better. While your pads will often be worn out from the warped rotors, it's possible that a brake service technician can smooth out the rotors with a specialized machine to prevent you from having to replace them.