Brakes are very important. While a broken timing belt may stop you dead on the highway, brakes that can’t do the job put you in danger every day. But how often should you replace your brakes? While your vehicle’s owner’s manual will give you a more customized idea of how often you should get your brake pads replaced (with the rotors needing to be replaced less often) usually you will need a pad replacement every 50,000 miles. That timing can be larger or smaller depending on what kind of brakes you have and how much you use them.
For example, driving in stop-and-go city traffic will put more wear-and-tear on your brakes than just long stretches of highway driving. Some brakes may need to be replaced every 25,000 miles, while those with sturdier construction may last up to 70,000 miles. Depending on your relationship with your mechanic, having him do a visual inspection every time you get your oil changed can give you a basic idea of where your brakes are in their life cycle. There are also a few warning signs when your brakes are getting worn.
Warning Signs That You May Need New Brakes
- A regular screeching sound when you brake that doesn’t go away as the brakes warm up
- Needing to push the brake pedal down farther to get the car to stop (also, leaking brake fluid visible under your car when you are parked)
- Your car pulling to the right or left like a shopping cart with a bad wheel (caused by uneven brake wearing).
- A grinding sound
- Vibration or shaking when braking or driving
If you have noticed any of these sounds or weird vehicle performance things happening regularly, it is a good idea to get your brakes or vehicle checked out right away (its one of those maintenance services you really do need). After all, one of the last things you want is brake failure. Several of these warning signs can also indicate other issues, so they are worth checking out even if you do not end up needing new brakes.