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How can I tell if my brakes and rotors need to be replaced?

Posted by tom zoebelein on Fri, May 17, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

Ward Automotive

Brakes are a common concern for many drivers and that’s definitely been the case with many of our customers.  One of the biggest questions we get is, “How can I tell if my brakes are bad?”  Many times, we can get a sense of how bad your brakes might be just by listening to the sounds they make or how they feel once pressure is applied to the pedal.  To help you determine whether your brakes and rotors might be ready for replacement, check for the following.

Do your brakes only squeak in the morning?
If your brakes squeak only in the morning, it is most likely due to surface rust.  What happens is that moisture develops on the rotors due to overnight temperature changes and this causes a small amount of rust to develop on the surface.  This is usually harmless and goes away after a few applications of the brake pads (basically after you use your brakes a few times). 

Ward AutomotiveAre your brakes fairly new, but starting to squeak regularly?
When your brakes start squeaking, it is likely that your brake pads are moving in their caliper brackets and need to be cleaned and lubricated.  Bring your vehicle to your Harford County mechanic, such as Ward Automotive, and we will clean and lubricate the brake pad backing plates with high temperature brake grease.  We will also clean and lubricate the abutment clips and the caliper brackets to ensure that every component will function properly.

Do you often engage in a lot of high-speed stopping and now your brakes are starting to squeak?
If you find yourself doing a lot of high speed stopping, unfortunately this kind of wear can cause your rotor surfaces to become glazed.  When the surfaces are glazed, the brake pads begin to vibrate on the brake rotors and make that squealing sound.  At Ward Automotive, we can resurface your rotors with our brake rotor lathe, then clean and lubricate the brake pad shims and abutment clips. 

Are your brakes fairly old and starting to squeak regularly?
A really great feature of most OEM quality brake pads is that they have what we call “squealers” installed.  When your brakes have been worn down and are ready to be replaced, the squealers produce their telltale sound, which is to let you know that your brakes have reached their surface limit.  Definitely be sure to take this warning seriously.  It can be extremely dangerous to drive on worn out brakes!   

Do you feel a vibration when you step on the brake pedal?
If your car shakes when you hit the brakes, it is likely because your rotors have become warped. 
Rotors can become warped due to general wear and tear on your vehicle.  Manufacturers have specifications for how thick your rotors should be and when rotors become too thin, they tend to warp easily.  Besides general wear and tear, rotors can become warped if you’ve had your brake pads replaced but not the rotors.  When new, thick brake pads rub against worn rotors, this can cause the rotors to become warped.  Once your rotors become warped, you’ll need to have them replaced.

At Ward Automotive in Harford County, Maryland, we can service all of your brake and rotor needs.  If you ever have a question or concern about the condition of your brakes, bring your car in for an examination.  We will make sure that your car is safe and healthy to be on the road. 

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Topics: Car repair Harford County, bel air mechanic, Harford county Mechanic, Brakes, car repair Bel Air, brake problems, brake noises, basic car maintenance, brake fluid flush, warped rotors, brake maintenance, brake rotor replacement, brake pad replacement, bad brakes, squeaking brakes, types of car parts, car maintenance