car mechanic repairs brakes from vehicle in a workshop

Squeal, Squeak, Grind – 3 Sounds You Don’t Want to Hear

If you do, it’s time for a brake check, says Mandi Lopez-Brown, car expert

These three sounds could be signs your brakes are wearing out, according to Mandi Lopez-Brown, General Manager at Car-Mart of Rogers North, Arkansas.

Mandi notes that, for obvious reasons, brakes are the most important part of your car for safe driving and must be well maintained to work at their best. “So, check your brakes regularly to avoid costly repairs and for your safety,” Mandi says.

A car’s brake system consists of pads, rotors, drums, shoes, calipers and a master cylinder. The calipers squeeze the brake pads against the surface of the rotor or drum to slow or stop the vehicle, an important function. Over time, these parts will age and operate less efficiently.

“A good rule of thumb is to have your brakes checked when you rotate your tires. Generally, brake pads should be replaced after 50,000 miles,” says Mandi. “Some may need to be replaced after 25,000 miles. It all depends on your driving, highway versus city driving.”

Mandi says ‘pay attention to these six warning signs’:

  1. Brake Light On
    This alert on your dashboard means it’s time to check your brakes immediately.
  2. Squealing or Grinding Brakes
    This high-pitched noise when you apply your brakes means your brake pads may be worn out and getting too thin.
  3. Shaking when Braking
    When your steering wheel shakes when you apply the brakes, it means your brake rotors are warped.
  4. Sinking Brakes
    When your brakes sink to the floor, you have a soft brake pedal and perhaps leaking brake fluid.
  5. Pulling to One Side
    When you apply the brakes and your car pulls to one side, the brake pads are worn unevenly or one of the calipers is dragging. Replacement is needed.
  6. Burning Smell while Driving
    This is a sign of overheated brakes or clutch.
Mandi Lopez-Brown, General Manager at Car-Mart of Rogers North
Mandi Lopez-Brown, General Manager at Car-Mart of Rogers North

“When you experience any of the above situations, get your brakes checked immediately. And, don’t delay,” Mandi says.

And, Mandi shares two ways to check your brakes:

  • Look at the wheels
    Dust accumulation in the wheel is a sign of normal wear, according to Motor Week. As the brake pads wear out completely, the amount of dust on the wheels usually decreases. (Hey, who knew dust is good!)
  • Look at the brake pad through the spaces of the wheel
    Determine the thickness of the brake pad. If it seems thin – less than ¼ inch, it needs replacement, according to J.D. Power.

“The bottom line is to listen to your brakes and pay attention,” Mandi says. “Good, functional brakes are key to safe braking and safe driving.”

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