How to Know You Need New Brakes

After one’s home, a car is often the second most expensive purchase most people will make in their lifetime. One of the most important components of a vehicle is the brake system and knowing exactly when a vehicle needs a tuneup can be confusing to many people.

Unlike services that are largely odometer driven, such as an oil change, the need for brake service can range widely. New brakes may be needed in as few as 20,000 miles or as long as 70,000 miles depending on vehicle type, driving conditions, and driving habits. Because of this wide range, it’s important to know what signs to look for and what sounds to listen for in your car. Knowing how to recognize these warning signs can help you better tell when you may need service. Perhaps the clearest sign that it’s time for new brake service is if they are squeaky. You’ve likely heard this sound before – when a vehicle comes to a stop there is a clear audible squeak that sounds like metal scratching metal. This sounds isn’t your actual rotors or other vital components, but a small metal shim that is designed to give you a warning indication when it is time for service. Other signs may be:

Responsiveness Problems

If you notice slow response time, or if the brake pedal feels loose, pushing to the floor too easily when depressed, there may be an issue with the vehicle’s brake line. The problem could be a fluid leak or there may be air in the brake line. You can check for a leak by moving your car after it has been parked for awhile and examining the ground where the car was parked.


One of the most unpleasant sounds a vehicle can make. Very different from the squeak from the indicator shim mentioned previously. If you hear a grinding sound from the wheel well of a car it means the pads have worn all the way down and they are beyond replacement. This grinding sound is caused by the metal disc and metal caliper rubbing together. Your rotors will likely need to be turned, or even replaced if this occurs.

Uneven Wearing

If you notice that your vehicle drifts right or left when you push on your pedal, it may be a sign that some brakes are working better than others and they have worn unevenly. Drifting or pulling when braking can also be a sign of a fluid issue. Either way, it’s a good idea to have an experienced mechanic examine the car for further diagnosis.

Braking Vibration

Vibration while braking can be a signal that the vehicle’s rotors have become warped. This vibration is often described as a pulsating sensation and can feel similar to an abrupt stop where the ABS becomes engaged.

Extreme Auto Service is committed to providing top of the line automotive repair in Centerville. If you are looking for trustworthy work contact them for car repair in Utah.


As a mechanical engineer turned blogger, Charlie provides readers with a technical, yet accessible look into the world of automotive engineering and design. His insightful posts make complex car technologies understandable.