Even if you are knowledgeable about car maintenance, you may not be sure when you need to replace your brakes. Getting new brakes depends on several factors, so the answer may not be the same for every car nor every driver. Before you start shopping for brake rotors on sale, you may want to consider what can affect the lifespan of brakes and what signs you should look for that your brakes need to be replaced.
1. Meet Your Maker
A vehicle manufacturer makes recommendations for maintenance of their cars, trucks, and SUVs. All you need to do is check your manual for a ballpark idea of when to consider a brake job. The average lifespan of brakes is about 50,000 miles, but it could be anywhere between 25,000 and 70,000 miles, which is why you should see the specifics for your make and model.
2. Know Your Habits
Are you a smooth starter and stopper, or do you view every acceleration like a NASCAR race? How you drive could have a lot to do with how long your brakes may last. What wears out brake pads and rotors is usage, and if you demand a lot of yours, they may give up before their time. You should also consider what you drive; if you tow something behind your vehicle or haul heavy loads, you may wear out your brake pads faster.
3. Nature Versus Nurture
Before you think the cost of your brake job quote is all your fault, remember that it’s not just a heavy foot that wears out brakes. Your driving environment could be as much to blame. For example, if you live in a hilly area with lots of changes in elevation, you may be using your brakes more than someone who drives primarily smooth, flat roads. City driving, with all its stop-and-go traffic, can also be more demanding than highway driving.
4. Tell Tale Signs
Do you turn up the radio when you hear a noise you don’t recognize? Well, stop that, because that noise could be telling you something important. Worn-out brakes make a scraping or squealing noise when you apply them, so give a listen. Consider how your car feels when you use the brakes. Does your car pull to one side? Does the brake pedal feel squishy or soft when you use it? Does it take you longer to come to a complete stop? Any of these signs may also indicate your brakes are worn out. Finally, look at your brake pads and see if they are thinner than they should be. A visual inspection may give you clear evidence that it’s time for new brakes.
Keep in mind that new brake pads cost a lot less than a total brake job, so stay on top of maintenance to catch any problems early. Not only can it save you money, it can also keep you safer on the road. If you suspect your brakes are on their last leg, you should have your car looked at by a trusted mechanic to see what repairs may be needed and how you may be able to save money in the process.