Car Brake Maintenance: How to Tell When Your Brakes Need Attention

Aside from tyres, few checks on a car are as important as your brakes since they are responsible for slowing down and stopping your vehicle. To maximise road safety, all car owners should understand the important role car brake maintenance plays. So, our team at Elite Garages has compiled a quick-fire guide on the tell-tale signs you may need car brake maintenance and how to make your brakes last longer.

How Do I Know When My Car Brakes Need Looking At?


1. Squeaking, Grinding, or Screeching Sounds

Squeaking or squealing sounds usually indicate that your brake pads are worn out and may need to be replaced. Brake pads are made of a soft material that wears down over time as they make contact with the brake disc. When the pads wear down too much, they can cause a high-pitched squeaking or squealing sound when you push down on the brake pedal while driving.

Grinding or screeching sounds, however, can indicate that the brake pads have worn down to the metal. This causes the metal backing of the pads to grind against the brake disc which could cause significant damage so it’s important to address this as soon as possible to avoid costly repairs.

Car Brake Maintenance Top Tip #1: What Else Can Cause Strange Brake Noises?

In addition to worn brake pads causing all sorts of brake noises, in some cases it could be as a result of something else, including the following:

  • A stuck brake calliper can cause the brake pads to wear unevenly, resulting in a grinding noise
  • Warped brake discs can also cause a vibration or pulsing sensation which can be accompanied by a grinding sound

Car Brake Maintenance Top Tip #2: How Long Do Car Brakes Last?

The lifespan of your car brakes depends on several factors, including your driving habits, the quality of the brake components, and the type of driving you do. In general, however, you can expect your vehicle’s brake pads to last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles.

2. Pulling or Dragging When Braking

Another common sign that you may need car brake maintenance is pulling or dragging when you apply the brakes. While there are several reasons for this, a bad brake hose or calliper issue are often the mai culprits. On the front brakes, for example, one brake may work while the other one does not which leads to a pulling force towards the side of the working brake.

However, it’s a little more complicated when one rear calliper is faulty as you may not notice anything different, except maybe a slight difference in braking quality. This is why car brake maintenance is so important and why you should regularly get your brakes inspected at Elite Garages to detect potential problems before they become dangerous and expensive.

3. Soft Brake Pedal

If you press on the brake pedal and it seems unusually soft, this is a sign that there may be an issue with the brakes. A soft brake pedal could indicate low brake fluid levels or even a faulty master cylinder. In either scenario, it’s important to take your car in for car brake maintenance as soon as possible so an expert can diagnose and fix the issue.

4. Delayed Braking Response

If you notice that your brakes are not responding as quickly as they did before, it may indicate an issue with the braking system. This could mean that you have to apply more pressure to the brake pedal to stop the car or that the brakes feel soft or spongy. These symptoms may suggest that there is either air in the brake lines or that the brake pads are worn out.

dangers of driving with worn brakes

5. Vibration in the Brake Pedal

If you feel shaking or vibration in your steering wheel or the car itself while applying the brakes, the thickness of your brake discs may be uneven. While it’s normal for brake pads to wear over time, leaving them unchecked can cause all sorts of issues. Eventually, the material will continue to build on the uneven spots, making the problem worse and possibly more dangerous and expensive to repair.

6. Car Brake Maintenance and Fluid Leaks

Remember to check other brake components besides brake pads and discs. Worn seals, loose connections, or hose cracks can cause air and fluid leaks, which may lead to poor braking performance. Look out for brake fluid on the inner wheels or on the ground where you park, as this may signal the need for car brake maintenance.

7. Brake Warning Lights

Most modern cars have a warning light on the dashboard that comes on when there’s a problem with the brakes. If you see this light, it’s essential to take your car to an experienced technician as soon as possible to have the problem diagnosed and fixed.

These are just some of the signs that you may need car brake maintenance. If you notice any strange noises, delays or vibrations while applying your brakes, take your car in for a professional inspection as soon as possible to avoid further damage and expensive repairs. Elite Garages provide expert brake servicing, so be sure to book a free visual brake check with us today.

Car Brake Maintenance And Anti-lock Braking Systems

Many cars today come standard with ABS brakes and you can check that the anti-lock braking system is functioning correctly by pressing firmly on the brakes while driving in a straight line on a dry road. If your car skids or loses traction, you need a brake expert to check it immediately.

At Elite Garages, our qualified vehicle technicians will inspect your brakes and determine what needs to be done. In most cases, replacing worn brake pads or rotors is a relatively simple and inexpensive fix. However, if the problem is more severe and linked to the brake lines or callipers, it may require more extensive repairs.

How Car Brake Maintenance And Good Driving Habits Can Help

In addition to knowing the main signs that your brakes need attention, there are also good driving habits that you can adopt to help increase the lifespan of your car brakes. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Avoid Heavy Braking

Braking hard and abruptly can put a lot of strain on your brakes, causing them to wear out much faster than normal. Instead, try to anticipate stops and slow down gradually to give your brakes a better chance to work more efficiently without putting too much strain on them.

Slow Down Gradually

If you know that you must come to a complete stop, try to slow down gradually whenever possible. This means taking your foot off the gas pedal and letting the car slow down naturally before applying the brakes.

Reduce Speed on Downhill Slopes

Going downhill can be especially hard on your brakes as gravity pulls your car down and you need to use the brakes to slow down. To help reduce the strain on your brakes, reduce your speed before going downhill and try to maintain a steady speed throughout the descent.

Keep Your Distance

Maintain safe following distance when driving

Maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of you can also help to reduce the strain on your brakes. By keeping a safe distance, you can avoid having to brake suddenly or frequently, allowing your brakes to work more efficiently which would help make them last longer.

Avoid Overloading Your Car

The weight of your car can also affect the lifespan of your brakes. Frequently overloading your car with heavy items can put additional strain on your brakes and cause them to wear out a lot faster. An often overlooked car brake maintenance tip is to try to keep your car as light as possible, and avoid carrying unnecessary weight.

By adopting these good driving habits, you can help to increase the lifespan of your car brakes and save money on repairs in the long run. The best way to ensure your safety and optimal vehicle performance is by following car brake maintenance best practices and to only use an experienced, reputable service centre like Elite Garages for your brake replacement.

Final Thoughts On Car Brake Maintenance

As you can see from the information in this guide, your brakes are one of the most important safety features on your car. Keeping them in good working condition is crucial for your safety and other road users. By knowing the signs that your brakes need attention, you can take action before a minor issue becomes a major one.

Remember to have your brakes inspected regularly by a qualified technician; something Elite Garages have done for decades. Contact your nearest branch for more information or browse our website to see the different services we offer.

Car Brake Maintenance FAQs

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The lifespan of your car brakes depends on several factors, including your driving habits, the quality of the brake components, and the type of driving you do. In general, however, you can expect your vehicle’s brake pads to last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles.

There are a few signs that can indicate you need new brakes, including squeaking or grinding noises when braking, a vibrating steering wheel and decreased responsiveness when engaging the brake pedal. If your vehicle is showing any of these signs, it’s important to have it looked at by a qualified technician.

While it’s technically possible to drive with brake problems, it’s not recommended and can be extremely dangerous to you and other road users. Driving with brake problems can result in reduced braking performance, uneven and increased wear on brake components.