Unless your vehicle won't stop at all, it may be hard to tell whether or not there is anything wrong with your brakes. Naturally, the last thing you want to do is wait until your brakes stop working completely to take them to a mechanic. How can you tell if there is something wrong with your brakes when they are still working?

Do You Hear a Grinding Noise When You Brake?

If your vehicle makes a grinding noise when you use your brakes, you need to stop driving your vehicle. This grinding noise is usually the result of a lack of brake pad material. Basically, this means the brake pad has worn down too thin to do its job properly. When there is no brake pad material, the grinding occurs because your brake rotors are grinding against metal instead of the brake pad material intended to protect the rotors when you stop the car.

If you are trying to understand how this works, it may help to think about the brake pads on your vehicle as if they are a bar of soap. Does the bar of soap last forever? No. As you use the bar of soap, it gets smaller and smaller over a period of time. Eventually, you have to replace the bar of soap. The same is true with the brake pads. If your brake pads are worn out to the point of hearing a grinding noise, you are going to damage other components of your brake system by continuing to drive (such as your rotors).

Do Your Brakes Squeak?

Brakes squeaking is not only annoying, but it can also be a sign of a bigger problem. It is also possible it could be a sign you have cheap brake pads on your vehicle. The reason why cheap brake pads cause your brakes to squeak is because they have large metal flakes on the brake pad material. When you press on your brakes, the squeak occurs as the rotors drag along the metal flakes.

If the brakes are squealing or squeaking while you are driving, but stop when you actually press on the brakes it is possible the brake's wear indicator is pressing down on your rotor. The wear indicator is a tiny metal tab that is hooked to your vehicle's brake pad. As your brake pads wear out and reach a point of needing to be replaced, the tab will start to drag across your rotor and create this squeaking or squealing noise to tell you that your brake pads need replaced.

As you can see, your brakes will actually tell you when they need a mechanic (like those at Dial-A-Tire Inc) if you pay attention to them. If you listen to the various noises they make, you should be able to detect when someone is wrong and when you need brake repair work done long before your brakes stop working completely.