The most important safety system in our vehicles is the braking system. We rely on our brakes every day to ensure that our vehicles can slow down and come to a stop in a safe manner.
The braking system is made up of many components, but the parts that wear out the most are the brake pads and rotors (brake shoes and drums for some vehicles).
Knowing how much life your brakes have left is important to know, as wearing them out completely can damage other parts of the braking system.
Overlooking regular check-ups and maintenance can lead to a complete failure of the braking system, which in turn can lead to accidents on the road.
Types of Brakes
There are typically two types of brakes in a vehicle: disk brakes and drum brakes. Vehicles can have only disk brakes, only drum brakes, or a mix of both.
Most commonly seen of the two, the disk brakes consist of pads and a rotor. They are easier to maintain and inspect than drum brakes. Most brake pads have a wear indicator that will make a squealing sound once the brake material is running low. This is one way to tell if it’s time to get your brakes changed. The rotors have a specified minimum thickness, which can be found in the shop manual for each vehicle.
The drum brakes consist of the brake drum and brake shoes. These are more difficult to maintain, and typically don’t have any wear indicators like brake pads. Drum brakes are also not as effective as disk brakes.
Changing Your Brakes
The frequency at which brakes need to be changed depends on many variables: the quality of the parts (cheap pads vs expensive pads), towing vs not towing, the types of brakes, type of vehicle, etc.
We recommend getting your brakes checked every time you come in for an oil change, that way you will get an idea of how fast they’re wearing out for your vehicle.
If your brakes are making noise, we recommend getting them checked as soon as possible.