How Often Should You Check Your Brakes – Car Brake Maintenance

December 6th, 2020 by

Brakes are critical to the safety of your vehicle. The prospect of not being able to slow down and stop properly in all weather conditions is extremely dangerous. You can drive with confidence when you know you’ve done your best to have your brakes routinely inspected and properly maintained. Brakes, by their nature, are designed to wear down faster than many other parts on your vehicle, so you probably want to know how often to have them checked or serviced. Read on to let the experts at Sweeney Cars guide you.

Brakes: What You Need to Know

Today’s cars are often so comfortable and responsive that even the best of us can forget that we are zooming along at very high speeds in a very heavy object with enough momentum to make stopping a challenging feat of engineering. Fortunately, your brakes are there to make this possible.

Your brakes are really a system that functions as a unit to let you slow and stop your vehicle efficiently and safely. Your car has both front and rear brakes. The front brakes have large metal disks called rotors and calipers that push brake pads against them when you press the brake pedal. The rear brakes may use the same system, or they may feature brake drums, which are slowed by brake shoes. All of these components are connected by tubes designed to move brake fluid through the system at the proper pressure.

Routine Maintenance

mechanic checking brakes

Image via Flickr by Bien Stephenson

Because your vehicle’s brakes are a complex system of interdependent parts that are routinely subjected to wear and tear, it’s important to make brake inspections part of your service routine. Brake pads and shoes are often the first pieces of the system to wear down. If inspection, maintenance, and replacement are missed on these parts, the rotors and drums are usually next to fail. Catching problems with worn pads and shoes early can help you prevent more expensive repairs down the line. Of course, it’s also important to identify any problems with your brakes to avoid unsafe driving or even accidents.

Brake Service Basics

During a routine brake inspection, the entire system will be inspected and checked for signs of damage, wear, or improper functioning. If the technician notices worn components or other problems, they will recommend further service. This may include:

  • Replacement of brake pads and shoes between every 20,000 to 60,000 miles.
  • Machine polishing or replacement of brake rotors.
  • Replacement of calipers or caliper pins as needed.
  • Brake fluid flush every two years or 20,000 miles.

Because every driver is different and driving circumstances and habits can vary, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact mileage or time frame when these services will be necessary. However, the first step in identifying when any of these services will be needed is a proper inspection performed at the right time.

How Often Should Brakes Be Serviced?

Many automotive experts recommend that you have your brakes inspected every six months. Some might suggest setting up an inspection during every oil change or tire rotation. However, there are many factors that affect how often you should schedule brake maintenance. Some common factors that may increase the wear on your brake system include:

  • Frequent driving in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Driving in hilly areas.
  • Riding the brakes.
  • Driving fast in general.

If any or all of these factors describe your driving style, your brake system components will likely need to be replaced more frequently, and you should also make brake inspections a regular part of your automotive maintenance schedule.

Signs That It’s Time to Have Your Brakes Checked

So much rides on the proper functioning of the brake system of your car, truck, or SUV that you need to be alert for the slightest indication that there could be a problem with it.

Here are a few signs that you should get your vehicle to a service center as soon as possible:

Bad Sounds

If you hear grinding, squealing, screeching, or any other unusual sounds when you press the brake pedal, it’s best to let an expert have a look.

Decreased Stopping Power

If you notice that it is taking longer than usual to slow or stop your vehicle when you apply the brakes or that you have to push your brake pedal farther toward the floor, it may be a good time for an inspection.

Warning Light

If your brake warning light comes on, even intermittently, you should take this signal seriously. Several brake components are covered by the brake warning light, and in order to find out which one is having a problem, you should consult a certified technician.

Visible Wear to Pads

If you know a little about cars and you have the right kind of wheels, you might be able to spot worn pads on your own without even removing your wheel. The brake pads should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. If you do happen to have a wheel off of your car, you can take the opportunity to visually inspect rotors and pads, looking for pitting and deep grooves. When in doubt, it’s best to ask your mechanic.

Pulling or Vibration

If you are driving and experience the car pulling to one side or vibrating when braking or even when you are just moving forward, there is a chance that the problem is related to the brake system. The easiest way to be sure is to have an expert diagnose the issue.

Brake Service You Can Count On

It’s critical to stay on top of your vehicle maintenance. Timely brake inspections are part of an overall service routine including regular oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotation, and multi-point vehicle inspections that will let you stay on the road with confidence and keep your vehicle running safer, stronger, and longer.

Looking for a service center that will help you get the most out of your ride? Sweeney Cars is ready to help. We pride ourselves on our expert service, and keeping our customers safe and happy on the road is what we do best. The factory-trained and certified technicians in our brand-new, state-of-the-art vehicle service center specialize in maintaining and repairing new and used vehicles. Make an appointment or stop by today to keep your car in top form.

Posted in Auto Service Tips