How to Determine if Your Vehicle Has Worn Down Brake Pads

Posted on: 11 February 2021

If you own a vehicle, you're likely well aware that your brake pads will need to be replaced at some point. However, how can you tell if the brake pads need replacement without taking your car to an auto shop to have them inspected? Here are a few ways that you can identify brake pads that need replacement.

Listen For Odd Sounds

The first thing that you'll want to do is tell if you can hear a squealing sound when you apply pressure to the brake pedal. This sound is intentional, and it is caused by a piece of metal in the brake pads that is designed to stick out as the brake pad gets worn down to a certain point. It causes metal to rub against metal, which creates that squealing sound that you're likely hearing. Of course, there is still some of the brake pad left by the time you hear this sound, but you should have your vehicle taken to a mechanic to have the brake pads replaced. 

Look at the Brake Pad 

You can actually perform a visual inspection of the brake pad from the outside with some cars, which is due to how open the wheels are and if they allow you to see through them. If the wheels are fully covered, you'll need to take the wheels off the vehicle to get a look at the brake pads. What you want to look for is the thickness of the brake pad and how much is left on it. If you see about ¼ of an inch of the brake pad left, then it is time to replace it. 

Look for Marks on the Rotors

If you cannot hear the sound of metal rubbing against metal, then you may be able to see the marks that are left from this happening. As the brake pads get more worn down, and more metal rubs against metal, scratch marks will start showing up on the rotors. This is a definite sign that your brake pads need replacement. 

Feel for Brake Fade

When you apply pressure to the brake pedal, the vehicle sends fluid that causes the brake pads to push up against the rotors. When there is very little brake pad left, you end up having to apply more pressure to the brake pedal to get the brakes to work. This is known as brake fade, and it happens gradually over time as the brake pads wear away. 

If you're noticing any of these signs, contact local brake repair shops.