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How To Tell If Brakes Are Worn

Brad Tucker
How To Tell If Brakes Are Worn

Making sure your brakes are in good condition is critical to your car’s well-being. Regular brake maintenance and inspection are also crucial to your safety as the driver and for your passengers. Though checking your brakes may not be something that comes to mind very often, it is incredibly important. Your brakes always need to be in prime condition so you are able to slow down and stop effectively.

So are you wondering how to tell if brakes are worn in your vehicle?

We have a few indicators for you so you can tell if it’s time to get your brakes serviced or not. All you have to do is: listen, feel, and look.


Have you ever heard a screech or squeak when you applied pressure to the brakes? A lot of the time, this is your vehicle telling you that your brake pads need to be replaced. If you can hear this screeching even when your windows are up and it’s happening pretty regularly, you’re going to want to make an appointment to get your brakes checked out with a professional. On the other hand, if you’ve just driven through the rain or washed your car, your brakes may screech some due to the thin layer of rust that quickly develops on the brake rotors when they get wet, but this is totally normal. As long as the noise goes away quickly, there is no need to call a mechanic!


  • Do your brakes feel less responsive?
  • Do you feel your vehicle “pulling” to one side when you brake?
  • Do your brakes feel like they’re pulsing or vibrating?

All of these “feelings” can be indicators of a brake problem. If you feel like your brakes are not as reactive as they should be, this could mean that your brake pads are worn, or your brake fluid is old or under-filled. If your vehicle feels like it is pulling to one side when you brake, there could be a problem with the brake caliper. Vibration or pulsation when braking can be caused by warped rotors. Your rotors can become warped from getting thinner as they wear, or from overheating. Overheating can be caused by riding the brake pedal or by driving down a mountain. If you feel any of these things, it’s smart to call a professional to assess the health of your brakes.


How to tell if brakes are worn is a lot easier nowadays. A lot of vehicles have indicators on the dashboard to let you know when your brakes need to be checked. Look to see if your brake light or ABS light are on. You can also check your brake pads for wear. You can check this by shining a flashlight through your wheels’ spokes to see the thickness of your brake pads. The brake pads will be pressed against the metal rotor. New brake pads are 10 mm (about 4/10ths of an inch) thick. If your pads are 3 mm (1/8th inch) thick or less, it’s time to start looking for replacements. While you're looking at the pads, you can also check your brake rotors. If you see unusual lines running around the rotor, an obviously uneven rotor surface, or a blue color to the rotor, you might want to make an appointment to have your brakes inspected.

Under normal use, most vehicles wear out a set of front brakes every 30,000 miles and a set of rear brakes every 60,000 miles. For how to tell if brakes are worn, it's a good idea to know when your brakes were last replaced, then check their condition every 10,000 miles. Making sure your brakes are functioning properly is vital to your safety and your vehicle’s life. If you notice any of the things above or anything else odd, call Georgia Square Collision. We’ll inspect your brakes for you and, if we find any problems, we’ll repair them, too!