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How to tell if your car needs new brakes

By Product Expert | Posted in Safety, Service, Tips and Tricks on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 at 11:29 am
2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 on a track with glowing brakes

Why are your brakes squeaking?

Do you hear a squealing sound every time you step on the brakes? Why are your brakes squeaking? When are you going to need new brakes? We can provide you with answers and tell you once and for all what that squeak is while also providing insight into how your brakes work.

How do brakes work?

To understand your brakes, it might help if first you understood how they work. There are two types of brakes generally used in modern automobiles: disk brakes and drum brakes. We cover both brake types below.

Disk Brakes

Disk brakes have a disk or rotor that spins with your wheel. On the outside of the disk, there are a pair of rubber brake pads that sit inside a caliper. When you press the brake pedal, these two pads pinch the rotor and slow the vehicle down. Disk-type brakes are generally more powerful than drum brakes.

2016 Camaro disk brakes with gray caliper

Drum Brakes

Drum brakes are typically more affordable, but they do not have the same stopping power. As such, they are usually used in the rear, if at all. They operate with a drum that spins with the wheel and a set of rubber brake pads that sit inside the drum and move outward to provide friction and slow movement.

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wheel shock absorber and abs brakesReasons why your brakes might squeak

There are two primary reasons why your brakes might squeak. The first is very common. If you let your car sit, even for a day, a small amount of rust can build up on the rotor of your disk brakes. This is especially common during rain or high humidity.

The rust build up is perfectly normal, and the squeak will typically dissipate after some use. It’s a good idea to be cautious with your brakes until the squeak goes away, which will usually occur after only a few stops.

The other cause for a brake squeak is more severe. Inside those rubber brake pads we talked about, there is a little bit of metal that lies deep under the rubber surface. This metal is often referred to as a wear indicator. Once the rubber wears down sufficiently, the metal begins to contact the rotor or the drum and a squeak happens.

Read More: Schedule Chevy brake service in Fond du Lac

Again, this is normal, and even according to design. This is simply a way for your brake pads to tell you that they need to be changed. Do not ignore the indicators though. If your pads wear down too far, you could damage the rotor or the drum and you may end up with a much more costly repair. This can also make your car dangerous to drive and could lead to your brakes failing entirely.

Why do your brakes feel soft?

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