how long do brakes last

How Long Do Brakes Last?: 9 Signs it’s Time to Change Your Brakes

Your car should always be in top working condition, but some components of a car should be monitored frequently.


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A perfect example is your brakes. Your brakes protect you and other drivers on the road. By braking, you can avoid an accident or simple maneuver your car better.

But your brakes don’t last forever. If your brakes are faulty, you pose a serious threat to you and other drivers. But don’t fret — your brakes will let you know they need to be repaired or fix. You just need to know the warning signs.

So, how long do brakes last? Rather than answer this question, it’s best to identify the warning signs. Here are 9 signs it’s time for new brakes.

1. Listen

When you brake, you shouldn’t be able to hear any noise. If you press hard on the brakes, even healthy brakes will make that signature squealing noise. But if you step slowly on the brakes, you should hear little to no noise.

If you hear a sharp squealing noise when you press lightly on the brake, this means you need new brakes. This is the first sign there’s wear and tear on the disc brakes.

If you’re an auto nerd, you can easily check the disc brakes for signs of wear. If you’re not, take your car to a mechanic and inform them your brakes are squealing.

2. Reduced Response

Do you remember slamming on the brakes in driving school? There are two reasons your driving instructor requires this lesson:

  1. To ensure you’re alert enough to brake
  2. To ensure your brakes respond well

What happens if you need to slam on your brakes and your brakes aren’t responding? You’re risking a serious accident.

When your breaks don’t respond, there’s likely a leak in the braking system. You can also identify this issue if your brakes “sink” toward the floor.

3. Pulling

When you tap on the break, your car should stop without any other or sudden movements. A common issue drivers experience is a “pulling” sensation while braking. Your car will usually pull to one sign.

What does this mean? The brake lining is starting to wear unevenly. There could also be foreign matter in the brake fluid.

Fortunately, this issue doesn’t call for a full brake replacement. You either need a brake adjustment or a brake fluid replacement. But you definitely need to take your car to a mechanic when you experience brake pulling.

4. Grinding or a Growling Noise

A common sound a driver hears when braking is growling noise. This occurs when your brakes are “grinding.”

The reason why your brakes make this noise is that your brake pads have worn down completely. Your brake disc and caliper are grinding together. That “growling” noise is caused by the two metal parts grinding each other.

If this issue persists, your rotors can form an uneven surface, damaging them.

Unfortunately, your brake pads are beyond replacement at this point. Your mechanic will have to repair or replace your rotors.

5. Vibration

Another common sensation when experiencing brake issues is a vibration. A slight vibration when slamming on the brakes is normal. But you shouldn’t feel a vibration when you press lightly on the brakes.

Vibration occurs when your rotors are warped or out of alignment.

Warped rotors are common; they’re caused by long-term wear and tear on the rotors. Those who live in areas where braking is habitual, such as in the mountains, commonly experience this issue.

This isn’t too severe of a fix. When you experience this vibration, take your car to a mechanic.

6. Look at Your Tires

Your tires can tell you a lot about your brakes. Do your tires look dusty? This could be because of the road. But this is likely due to brake dust.

Your brakes release dust and this dust accumulates on your tires.

If your tires have a dusty appearance, this means your brakes are working fine. But if your tires constantly look brand new, this is a sign your brakes aren’t working as well as they should be.

7. Squealing Noise

This is the most common sign you’re experiencing braking issues, specifically with the brake pads.

When braking, your brake pads clamp on the rotor. This creates friction. This friction helps slow and stop your vehicle. So it’s essential your brake pads are working.

What causes the squealing noise?

Brake pads are made with a small spring and clip, also known as a “wear indicator.” When your brake pads are worn out, the clip makes contact with the rotor. This produces that squealing sound we all know.

8. Mushy Pedal

When your brakes are healthy, your brake pedal should be firm. You’ll need to use force to push your pedal down. Do you think it’s easy to fully push down your pedal? You could be a strong person, or you may have a mushy pedal.

If the slightest touch forces your pedal to the ground, this is a sign of worn pads or an issue with the hydraulic system. Issues include an air or a brake fluid leak.

9. Your Brake Pads are Thin

If you don’t detect these symptoms but are still convinced your brakes need to be repaired, it’s time to go on your hands and knees and take a look at your brakes.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a mechanic to check for thin brake pads.

Look into the spokes of your wheel. You’ll be able to see a shiny metal object.

These are the brake rotors. Around the edges are the brake calipers. Between the rotor and calipers, you’ll see the brake pad.

Your pads should be a quarter of an inch thick. If your pads are thinner than this, it’s time to take your car to the mechanic.

How Long Do Brakes Last?

So, how long do brakes last? Your brakes should last between 25,000 and 65,000 miles. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore signs of brake wear and tear.

Memorize these 9 signs and take your car to a mechanic when your brakes experience issues.

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