Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance May 3, 2016

How Do I Know When I Need New Brakes?

A question Virginia Tire & Auto experts are asked regularly is,  “How many miles will I get out of my brake pads?” This is not an easily answered question. The fact is that the longevity of brake pads truly varies by driving style and vehicle type.

As you may already know, brake pads wear with each and every push of the brake pedal. So, if your commute consists of a lot of traffic or city driving then your brake pads are likely to wear out sooner than expected. By most industry estimates (which can vary significantly), brakes should be replaced every 20,000-60,000 miles.

Since mileage estimates for brake life can vary greatly, Virginia Tire & Auto would like to share the following signs of brake wear that drivers should be on the lookout for:

  1. ‘Screeching’ sound when you press the brake pedal.  Many cars have an indicator that creates a warning sound, sending an alert that you need to replace the brake pads.
  2. Additional brake pressure needed to stop the vehicle. This could be an indication of a brake fluid leak and can sometimes be confirmed by the existence of a small puddle of brake fluid under your vehicle.
  3. Your car pulls during braking: Pulling of your car to one side when brakes are applied could be a result of the brake lining wearing unevenly. You may just need a brake adjustment or have the fluid drained & replaced.
  4. Vibration when pressing the brake pedal: This could be a sign of warped rotors (or your car is out of alignment).
  5. Grinding noise: The type of sound is usually associated with metal parts rubbing together. It likely is a result of completely worn brake pads that are rubbing into the rotors.

A visual inspection of the brake pads can also highlight wear issues. Normally, you want to measure the thickness of the brake pads and consider replacing them at 1/5 inch thickness or below. Please refer to the picture below of new and worn brake pads:


If you are unsure whether your vehicle needs new brakes, please bring it to one of Virginia Tire & Auto locations in Northern Virginia We offer a FREE visual brake inspection which includes a measurement of the brake pads/shoes and a brake fluid test.

If your brakes need servicing, our expert technicians are equipped to perform any brake repair. Check out our brake services & pricing by clicking HERE.

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