When you’re out driving your vehicle, how well your brakes are functioning is likely one of the last things on your mind. Yet the efficient operation of your brakes is a very pivotal component in ensuring that your driving experience is a good one. Every time you use your brakes a tiny bit of their surface wears off, which is why they must be replaced when they’ve become too worn to do their job as efficiently. Unlike most vehicle repairs, brake problems typically create noticeable differences in the way your vehicle behaves, giving you a way to tell if there are issues ‒ as long as you know what you are looking for.

Signs You Might Need a Brake Service

One of the easiest ways to tell if you need a brake service is to make sure to listen to your vehicle while you are driving it. Brake pads are equipped with something called an indicator. It is a small metal shim buried within the brake pad material that, when your pads are worn down, will rub against your rotors or drums, depending on what type of braking system your vehicle is equipped with. This will create a loud high-pitched screeching sound, which lets you know that the pad surface is getting too thin and is in need of replacement.

This sound isn’t always loud enough to be heard over air conditioning noise or the radio, nor does it tell you if there are other system issues present, so there are additional indicators that you can look for as well. If your brakes aren’t as responsive as they used to be, or if the pedal needs to be pushed closer to the floor to work, this could be a sign that you have an air or fluid leak in your brake lines. If your vehicle pulls to one side when braking, this may be a sign of uneven brake pad wear, or that your brake fluid is contaminated.

If you brakes aren’t squealing, and are instead making a loud growling or grinding noise, this means that your pads have completely worn away and the metal behind them is now grinding against your rotors or drums. Another sign of problems is if your brakes vibrate anytime the pedal is depressed. Either of these issues can indicate that your brakes are causing damage, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Brake Inspection

Periodic inspections are the only way to ensure that your entire braking system is working as it should be. The best time to do this is when you have your tires rotated, which should be one to two times per year. Your neighborhood Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Jiffy Lube® will perform a free brake inspection with every tire rotation.

Brake System Repairs

Mst brake pads are rated to last 30,000 to 35,000 miles, though your driving habits and environment can have an impact on their lifespan. Replacing your brake pads is the most common repair that braking systems need, and this is a relatively fast process. Your technician simply takes off the old pads and replaces them with new ones that meet your manufacturer’s recommendations.

As long brake pads are changed on time, there is little chance of causing damage to your rotors or drums. If, however, you delay changing your pads, they can eventually cause damage to the rotor or drum surface. Slight damage can usually be removed by machining the parts back to a smooth surface. Thin or seriously damaged rotors and drums cannot be repaired and must instead be replaced.

Brake pads aren’t the only part of your braking system. All braking systems rely on brake fluid, which, with help from the system’s pump, called a master cylinder, pressurizes in your brake lines every time you press down on the pedal. This pressure is what causes your brake pads to press against your rotors or drums, creating friction which slows your vehicle down. Over time, these lines can become worn and spring leaks, which will make your brakes less responsive, and also allow contaminates such as dust or water to get mixed into the fluid. Brake fluid can also become contaminated over time without leaks in the brake lines, which is why having a fluid exchange performed periodically is recommended by all vehicle manufacturers. The process involves draining all of the fluid from your lines, cleaning the master cylinder, refilling the system with fluid, and making sure the fluid reaches all four tires.

Maintaining the braking system so that it functions properly is an important part of owning a vehicle. This can be done by getting your brakes checked regularly, which will actually help to prevent more expensive brake repairs in the future. If you are ever unsure of whether or not you need brake repairs, stop by your nearest Chicaoland and Northwest Indiana Jiffy Lube® location for an on-the-spot inspection.

Jiffy Lube® recommends following manufacturer recommendations, where applicable, for maintenance schedules and service intervals.

Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube® service center for specific services offered.