How Do I Know I Need New Brakes?

January 25 2017,

How Do I Know I Need New Brakes?

How Do I Know I Need New Brakes?

Driving is fun.

So much fun that when you’re driving on the Polk Parkway, windows down, radio volume up, the last thing on your mind is that you're in a massive chunk of steel and glass hurtling through space at 65-plus miles per hour.

At that speed, if you suddenly need to stop, you need the length of a football field to come to a complete stop– and that’s only if the most crucial safety system on your vehicle, your brakes, is working properly.

So do yourself a favor and make sure the brakes are in good condition before you need them in an emergency situation.

Look, listen

To proactively check for brake wear on disc brakes, you have to look and listen. First, check for wear by looking at your brake pads through the spaces between the wheel's spokes. The outside pad will be pressed against a metal rotor. Generally, there should be at least 1/4 inch of a pad. If you see less than 1/4 inch of a pad, you need to have your brake pads inspected or replaced.

Have you ever heard an annoying, high-pitched screech when you applied your brakes? That's a small metal shim, called an indicator, which is designed to give you an audible warning that you need to replace your brake pads. You should be aware of this sound and if you hear it, call the friendly technicians at Bartow Ford and make an appointment, as soon as you are able.

One exception is if your car has been sitting after being exposed to water, such as from rain or from washing it. The moisture can cause a thin layer of rust to develop on the brake rotors, which is normal. When you first apply the brakes, the pads pressing on the rust-covered rotors may cause a squeal for a few stops until the rust is worn off and then the sound will disappear.

Other Signs Your Brakes May Need To Be Replaced

Reduced Responsiveness

If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal "sinks" toward the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak in the brake hose or a brake fluid leak. If it is a brake fluid leak, you will probably see a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked. Brake fluid looks similar to fresh motor oil, but with a less "gooey" texture.


 If your vehicle "pulls" to one side when braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or that there is foreign matter in the brake fluid. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.


This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely. The grinding noise is caused by the two pieces of metal (the disc and the caliper) rubbing together. This can scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, don’t be surprised if your mechanic tells you that the rotors need to be turned or even replaced.


A vibrating brake pedal is often a symptom of warped rotors (but can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment).


Even if you are not experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to keep in mind that typically, disc brake pads will last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. This depends upon numerous many factors such as driving conditions and brake maintenance.

So if things with your brakes just don’t look or sound right, or if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, call us at Bartow Ford. We’ll get you fixed up and back on the road fast!

Book a Service Appointment

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