At Chicago Motors, your home for Volvo repair in Chicago, we know that one of the most important components of any vehicle is the brake system, and knowing exactly when you need new brakes can be confusing.

Many needed auto repairs, like an oil change, are odometer driven. That’s not the case with your brakes, and it’s helpful to know the signs that tell you when it’s time to repair or replace them.

Eyes and Ears

Today, most vehicles give both visual and audible signs that your vehicle needs new brakes.

First, look between the wheel spokes to locate the outer brake pad. If there’s more than ¼ inch of pad, the brake pads are probably fine. Less than ¼ inch means it’s time for brake service.

Probably the clearest sign of the need for service is squeaky brakes. That squeak comes from a metal shim, called an indicator, installed to warn you it’s time for new brakes.

Another audible warning is a loud, metallic grinding or growling, different from the squeak of the indicator shim. That sound means you’ve worn down the pads completely, and the disc and caliper are rubbing together, scoring or scratching your rotors. The rotors may need to be turned to even out the scratches, or even replaced.

Other Warning Signs

  • Poor responsiveness or fading – If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or sink to the floor, you could have either an air or fluid leak in the brake line. To check for a fluid leak, move your car and check for fluid (that looks like oil but is less “slimy”) on the ground.
  • Pulling – If your vehicle pulls to one side when braking, that could indicate your brake linings are wearing unevenly or there’s foreign matter in the brake fluid. You may need a brake adjustment or have your brake fluid drained and replaced.
  • Vibration – A vibrating or pulsating brake pedal can indicate warped rotors caused by harsh braking that puts prolonged and excessive friction on the braking system, such as long mountain declines or towing heavy objects. To avoid warping under these conditions, stop occasionally to let the brakes cool.

Keeping your brake system in good repair is crucial to your safety, and it’s important to know the warning signs and have regular maintenance. Come by Chicago Motors today for the very best brake maintenance and Volvo repair in Chicago.