When to Get Brake Service

Every day, a special reminder sits in the periphery of your car’s windshield. It tells you when you’ll next need to schedule oil change service. When it comes to your vehicle’s brakes however, there is no such reminder. The first warning you’ll ever get is an obnoxious squealing sound as your brake pads start to wear down. However, there are many important signs you can look for that will inform you when to schedule that crucial brake service. 

Signs You Need to Schedule Service

Worn Brake Pads on White Background

Brake Pads are One of the First Parts of Your System to Wear Out. Check Change Them Every 50,000 Miles.

There are quite a few ways your brakes can tell you when something is wrong. There are certain smells, sounds, and physical signs, each representing a different set of potential problems. Be aware of the following indications your brakes need service:

  • Your brakes squeak and squeal when you push the pedal.
  • Your brake light comes on.
  • Your braking speed drops dramatically.
  • You smell something burning when you brake.
  • Your car pulls to the left or right when braking.
  • Your brake pedal sinks further towards the floor than usual.
  • You spot fluid leaking out of the car.

That’s a lot of warning! We’ll break down a few of these symptoms and explain what they mean. Keep in mind that the amount of driving you do will affect how often brake service needs to be performed.

Squealing/Squeaky Brakes

This usually is a sign your brake pads are too worn down and need to be replaced. These pads are attached to a pair of calipers that apply pressure to either side of your brake rotors, slowing down the vehicle. If the pads are too degraded, your metal brake calipers will come in direct contact with the rotors (also metal) and damage them.

The Car Pulls to the Side or Wobbles When Breaking

Brake Pad on Rotor Disc

Wobbling and Pulling to the Side Could Indicate a Problem With a Brake Caliper or Rotor.

This problem also involves your brake calipers and rotors. Sometimes your calipers become unbalanced, with one applying more braking pressure than the other. You also may feel some unpleasant vibration in the steering wheel as you brake. This is the result of uneven disc rotors. Wear and tear over time can degrade your rotors until one is thicker than the other. It only takes the slightest difference in thickness between the two rotors to cause uneven braking.

You Spot Fluid Leaking Out of Your Brakes

Without sufficient brake fluid, your car’s ability to stop will quickly disappear. If you spot brake fluid leaking out of your vehicle (it’s brown like oil), you need to have your mechanic repair the damage quickly. This may be the result of waiting too long to have the fluid changed. You can prevent this by checking your fluid every so often. As brake fluid ages and collects random chunks, it gradually becomes darker. Eventually, it will start to degrade the master cylinder and seep out.

Common Car Owner Questions

How Long Does Brake Service Take?

That depends entirely on which parts of the brakes need replacement. A standard checkup with few part replacements may take less than an hour, while a more involved servicing can take over two. The standard brake service process involves:

  • Checking (and/or replacing) brake pads
  • Examining (and/or rebalancing) brake rotor discs
  • Inspecting the brake line for leaks

Again, any additional work involving the calipers, rotors, and brake line will add to your total service time. Make sure to block out a 3-hour window for your brake service, just in case. 

Bleeding Brakes

While it’s not part of the standard brake service, you may want to ask your service about bleeding your brakes as well. This is the process of eliminating air bubbles from your brake lines, though it’s only necessary for vehicles with hydraulic break systems.

What are the Types of Brakes?

  • A Lit ABS Warning Light on the Dashboard

    Your Anti-Lock Braking System is One Kind of Electrical Brake.

    Mechanical Brakes: The most commonly used type would be disc brakes that use calipers and brake pads to push on rotor discs. Drum brakes are another type of mechanical brake system.

  • Power Brake Systems: rely on air and vacuum power with a drum or disk brake system.
  • Electric Brakes: includes your ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and Automated Braking Systems. Calculates electrical resistance when the pedal is depressed and determines how much force to use when activating the brakes.
  • Hydraulic Brake Systems: utilize hydraulic systems to apply pressure on the disc rotors.
  • Parking Brakes: halts movement while the vehicle is turned off.

For further details about each type of break, check out this Quora brake system discussion.

When Should You Replace Your Brake Pads?

How many miles should brakes last? On average, brake pads should be switched out every 50,000 miles. High-end pads may last longer, and low-end brake pads may only last half that distance. If you start to hear that tell-tale brake squeal, you’ll know it’s time.

Schedule Service for Your Brakes Today!

Is it time to arrange your brake service in Saline and Ann Arbor, MI? Our team at Saline Automotive Service would love to check your system and provide cost-effective maintenance. Give our team a call today at 734-429-2886!