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Enjoying My New Car

After finally saving enough money for a down payment on a new car, I was really excited about customizing it and really making it my own. I spent a lot of time going through and thinking of different ways to make the vehicle unique, and it was exciting to see how far it was able to come. I completely replaced the seat covers, overhauled the electronics, and gave the engine a serious tune-up. When I was finished, the car ran like a gem, and it looked even better. This blog is all about enjoying your new vehicle and not taking great features for granted.


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Enjoying My New Car

4 Clues Your Brake Pads Need Changing

by Arianna Tucker

If your car's braking system isn't working effectively, you and your vehicle pose a serious hazard to other road users. In fact, in states like Virginia, driving a faulty car could land you with a charge of reckless driving, which is a class one misdemeanor. As such, it's important to learn how to spot the signs that you could have a problem with your brake pads. Here are four of them.

1. Brake pedal vibrations

When you press the brake pedal, your foot moves a lever that then pushes a piston in a cylinder filled with hydraulic brake fluid. When this happens, fluid comes out the other end. This fluid then travels down a thin pipe and enters another, larger cylinder, and the force of this fluid pushes another piston, which pushes the brake pad. When the brake pad touches the brake cylinder, friction occurs. This friction slows down the car.

If the brake pad needs changing, you may feel a vibration or pulsation when you press the brake pedal. This occurs because the pad isn't able to touch the brake cylinder smoothly, either because of wear or because the part has warped.

Unusual noises

Your car shouldn't make any unusual noises when you apply the brakes. In fact, the process should be smooth and silent. As such, any odd sounds could indicate that you have a problem with your brake pads. Examples include:

  • Grinding sounds that occur because of wear to the brake pad. The sound occurs because the brake disc and caliper rub together where there's almost nothing left of the pad. This fault can also cause damage to the rotors.
  • Unpleasant screeching sounds when you press the brake pedal right down. This sound occurs because manufacturers install a small part around the brake pads (called a shim) to act as an indicator that the brake pads are on their way out.
  • Clicking noises that occur when the brake pad starts to wear out. Car manufacturers install a special device that stops the brakes rattling when you press the pedal. If the brake pad wears out, this device no longer works.

Even new cars can sometimes make occasional noises, and a one-off sound doesn't necessarily indicate that you have a problem. Nonetheless, persistently noisy symptoms require further investigation, so don't ignore any sound that regularly occurs.

A car that pulls to one side

When you apply the brakes, your car should remain exactly on course. If there's a problem with the braking system, the car may pull slightly to one side. This is clearly an issue. If you need to stop in an emergency, some pulling could result in a collision with another vehicle to your right or left.

Car pulling is often a symptom of various problems with the braking system and doesn't automatically mean you have a problem with the brake pads. However, if the car pulls when you brake, you may have uneven wear on your pads. If the pulling occurs at other times when you don't apply your brakes, you may have another repair issue. In either case, you should see a mechanic as soon as possible.

Thin pads

Even if you aren't mechanically minded, it's relatively easy to spot some of the visual clues that may suggest you have a problem with your brake pads. If you take off your car's hubcaps and look through the spokes of your car's wheels, you should see the outside brake pad, which presses against the brake rotor when you push the brake pedal. 

Check to see how much brake pad is visible. If you can only see a ¼ inch or less, the pad is almost certainly worn too thin. You may not find it very easy to get a measuring tape in the space, but you can hold your thumb against the pad. On the basis that your thumb is about an inch long, you can use this digit to estimate the amount of pad remaining. If you're unsure, ask a mechanic to take a look.

Your brake pads are vital to the performance, handling and safety of your car. Talk to a parts supplier for information and advice about when to replace them.