Car Maintenance Tips: When is the Right Time to Change your Disc Brakes?

If your car’s brake pedal flutters once you step on it or if your brakes start to pull to one side or squeal, then you should definitely inspect your disc brakes. Brake linings and disc brakes should be checked every 10,000 miles, but people often take their maintenance for granted. However, it can save you plenty (in the long run) and is vital to your vehicle and safety.

What Causes Disc Brakes to Wear Out?

One of the major causes for worn out rotors is driving with worn brake pads. They cause wear to occur as they scrape against the rotors. When worn pads keep hitting the rotors, the rotors can warp completely, or due to the scores and scrapes on the rotors.

The metal in the rotor can contract and expand due to big temperature changes, which may cause the rotor to wear out at a much faster rate. It occurs when the brakes are used constantly and excessively, for example, if you’re driving down steep grades, you’ll be putting force onto the brake rotors more than you would in normal driving circumstances.

As you drive, the amount of debris and dirt is being accumulated by the rotors. As the metal of the rotors tends to get eaten away by the dirt, this causes gouging and pitting, so the rotors wear out at an accelerated rate.

How to Inspect your Disc Brakes?

There are several things to check and ensure whether they’re working properly or not, during the brake inspection. This has to be done at least twice a year, or more often if you drive more than an average person (frequent business travels to distant places or everyday commuting). Regular brake disc inspection will help you save money from potential damages (that could be the result of no brake maintenance), as well as protect you and your passengers. It’s easier to inspect cars with alloy rims, because it can be done without removing the wheels. In other cases, the wheels have to be taken off (which shouldn’t be a constraint).

Take the wheel off. Grab the tools needed for removing a wheel, loosen the lug nuts, jack up the end of the car where the wheel is, and support it with jack stands. Take the wheel off.

Check the brake rotor. Take a look at it, but don’t try to remove it. See whether there’s any scoring, heavy rust, or uneven wear. Unless the car has been standing idle for some time and the rust has really built up, rust generally is harmless. If you notice that the disc is worn unevenly or badly scored, you should consult a mechanic about whether it needs to be replaced or can be resurfaced.

There should be a “Worn Rotor Minimum Thickness” limit engraved on the edge of the disc, and the rotors should be replaced before their thickness has reached that limit (measure rotor thickness with a micrometer).

Make sure that the parking brake is off and the car is in neutral state. As you’re looking at the brake rotor, spin it around with your hand, and it should turn smoothly (more or less). If it happens that it grabs in one space, it may have excessive brake pad deposits or be warped. If you need a new rotor, check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see the type of the brake rotor it uses, and purchase a quality brake rotor from a DBA authorized disc brakes seller.

Check the brake pads. Look at the brake pads through the inspection hole in the dust shield on the caliper. See if the linings on the brakes are worn by measuring their thickness. The pads should be replaced if the lining is down to the thickness of the steel backing plate. The disc should be replaced if the linings have worn to the metal pads.

Check the brake caliper. The caliper will be hot if the car has been driven recently. If not, shake it gently to make sure that the mounting hardware isn’t worn and that it isn’t loosely mounted.

Check the brake lines for leaks. The rubber that goes between the steel brake line, attached to the brake caliper and the frame should be free of cracks and dry.

Put the wheel back on.

Take care of your car’s brake system by regularly inspecting them and changing the worn out parts – rotors, pads, calipers – and by checking brake lines for leaks and cracks. The brake system is one of the essential systems in your vehicle, so a good maintenance unquestionably important. If you realize that your disc brakes need to be repaired or replaced, don’t wait, but pay a visit to your trusted mechanic as soon as possible.

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