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Even if you dread brake inspection because of the tedious process you have to go through, it is that one part of auto maintenance that should not be overlooked. Not only are the brakes important in extending the life of your vehicle, but they can also be your savior should you encounter any road mishap.
Among the parts of your vehicle's braking system, the brake pads call for regular maintenance. Thankfully, these pads are designed to tell drivers when they need replacement. They usually have a wear indicator that comes in contact with the rotor and creates certain noise once the pad material has worn down to a certain level.
Here are some ways to inspect your pads:
Listen to brake noise.
This is the easiest way to determine if your brake pads have worn out. You need not take the wheels off-all you need to do is to take your car out for a drive. When the vehicle is running, the noise that worn-out pads produce is like the sound of a metal being scraped against the wheels. This squealing noise gets louder as you apply the brakes. If your brakes produce such sound, then it's an early sign that you need a replacement brake pad set.
Feel the brake pedal and the steering wheel for vibration.
To do this, you have to depress your pedal to a halt from about 30 mph. The brake pedal should work and feel smoothly with no pulsation at all. Also try driving and braking at highway speed. If you notice pulsation in any of the two or during both instances, that means your brake pads are worn out and you should outfit your ride with a new brake pad set soon. Vibration felt on the steering wheel also indicates brake pad issues.
Do a visual inspection.
Look at the wheels. Do you notice brake dust? As the brake system works, it normally produces brake dust. If you notice a decrease in the amount of dust produced, that is a clear sign of worn-out brake pads.
Another reason for doing a visual inspection is to determine the thickness of the brake pads. But what should be the brake pad thickness? The minimum thickness of the pads is usually engraved or stamped on the outer edge of the disc. You're lucky if your vehicle allows you to clearly see the brake pads through the wheel. If you think the pad is now very thin and has reached the minimum allowed thickness indicated on the disc, then you shouldn't think twice in getting a replacement brake pad set and having your stock replaced.
The lifespan of your brake pads usually depends on a wide range of variables, including your personal driving style and the type and composition of the pads installed in your ride. If you're a frequent driver, you should inspect your brakes every 3 months. Average driver should do this every 6-12 months while infrequent drivers must perform brake inspection every 8-12 months.
If you use your vehicles for track and competition, you need to inspect all brake components before and in between sessions. The rotors and the brake pad set must be replaced before they reach their wear limits.