When to Replace Your Brakes

Unlike other routine maintenance items, there’s no universal interval for when to change the brakes on your car. That’s because what you drive, how often you drive, and how you drive greatly affect the lifespan of your braking system, especially the brake pads. But there are a few warning signs that could indicate it’s time for new brakes. In this article, we’ll cover how often you should replace your brakes.

In this article, our team at Norm Reeves Volkswagen Superstore in Irvine will teach you what to look for so you can determine if your car is due for a brake replacement. But first, let’s take a quick look at how the braking system slows your vehicle down.

How the Braking System Works

When you press on the brake pedal, brake fluid builds up pressure inside the brake cables to push the caliper. The caliper is a heavy metal arm that holds the brake pad. When the caliper is pushed, it, in turn, pushes the brake pad against the rotor. The rotor is a metal disc that’s attached to the wheel. The action of the brake pad pushing against the rotor causes friction, which slows the spin of the wheel.

The rotor is necessary for your braking system to function properly because it provides an adequate surface for the brake pad to push against and prevents the wheel from being damaged. Both the brake pads and the rotors can wear down over time and need to be replaced.

Replace Your Brakes When You Hear…

  • A high-pitched screeching. If you hear a loud squeal whenever you press the brakes, then it’s definitely time to call your auto technician. This sound is actually a safety precaution put into place by the manufacturer of the brake pads. It’s caused by the wear indicator, a small metal tip that comes in contact with the rotor once the brake pad has been worn down to a certain thinness.

If the screeching sound goes away, don’t think that you don’t need to replace your brakes. It’s possible that the indicator tip has worn down too, which could cause significant damage to the caliper, rotors, and other parts of the vehicle.

  • Clunking or grinding. You never want to hear this noise when you’re trying to stop your car. The usual cause for a grinding or loud clunking sound is that the brake pads have worn down completely and now the only thing left to push onto the rotor is the caliper. In a relatively short amount of time, the rotor can become warped and damaged due to the immense friction and heat caused by the caliper. Likewise, the caliper can become damaged.

Brake pads are fairly inexpensive to replace. Rotors and calipers, on the other hand, aren’t. So it’s best to replace your brake pads before they’re completely worn down to prevent other, more costly problems.

Is It Time to Replace Your Brakes?

If your car is due for new brake pads or if you have questions about how often you should replace your brakes, contact us at Norm Reeves Volkswagen in Irvine. Our certified technicians can replace your brakes quickly and professionally, so you can get back behind the wheel safely. Schedule your service appointment today.

Find out more about Volkswagen’s maintenance program here.