Maintenance Tips

Tips for Brake Maintenance and Inspection for First-time Car Owners

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 11/07/2023

Congratulations on being a car owner!

Owning a vehicle is great but it comes with its own responsibilities, one of which is caring for your brakes.

Your brakes are one of the most important safety features in your car. They allow you to slow down and stop safely, regardless of the road conditions. That’s why it’s so important to keep your brakes in good working order.

Regular brake maintenance and inspection are essential for ensuring that your brakes are always performing at their best. 

How Can I Keep My Brakes Safe and Reliable?

Here are some tips on how to keep your brakes safe and reliable:

1. Inspect your brakes regularly. A good rule of thumb is to have your brakes inspected every 12,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. However, if you drive in heavy traffic or in severe weather conditions, you may need to inspect your brakes more often.

2. Check your brake fluid level. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. Over time, this can cause the brake fluid to boil, which can lead to brake failure. Check your brake fluid level regularly and top it off as needed.

3. Replace your brake pads and rotors when necessary. Brake pads and rotors are the parts of your brake system that wear down the fastest. Brake pads typically last between 20,000 and 40,000 miles, while rotors can last up to 70,000 miles. However, these lifespans can vary depending on your driving habits and the road conditions you drive in.

Have your brakes inspected by a qualified professional. If you’re not comfortable inspecting your brakes yourself, take your car to a qualified mechanic. They will be able to thoroughly inspect your brakes and identify any potential problems.

What are Signs That I Need a Brake Maintenance

Here are some signs that you may need brake maintenance:

Squealing or grinding noises. When you brake, you may hear a squealing or grinding noise. This is a sign that your brake pads are worn and need to be replaced.

A soft or spongy brake pedal. If your brake pedal feels soft or spongy, it could be a sign of a leak in your brake system.

Increased stopping distance. If it takes longer than usual to stop your car, it could be a sign that your brakes are not working properly.

Pulling to one side when braking. If your car pulls to one side when you brake, it could be a sign that your brakes are not evenly worn or that there is a problem with your alignment.

Bouncy brake pedals. This might indicate a rough rotor or brake disc that would affect brake integrity and ability to stop safely. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have your brakes inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

How do I Carry Out a Basic Brake Inspection Myself? 

If you’re comfortable working on your own car, you can do a basic brake inspection yourself. To do this, you will need to remove the wheels from your car. Once the wheels are off, you can inspect the brake pads, rotors, calipers, and brake lines for any signs of wear or damage.

Here are some things to look for:

Brake pads. The brake pads should be at least 1/4 inch thick. If they are thinner than that, they need to be replaced.

Rotors or Brake Discs. The rotors should be smooth and free of cracks or warping. If they are damaged, they need to be replaced or resurfaced.

Calipers. The calipers should be free of leaks and corrosion. If they are damaged, they need to be repaired or replaced.

Brake lines. The brake lines should be free of cracks and leaks. If they are damaged, they need to be replaced.

If you notice any problems with your brakes during the inspection, take your car to a qualified mechanic to have them repaired or replaced.

How do I Keep my Brakes in Good Condition

There are a few things you can do to keep your brakes in good condition:

  • Avoid hard braking whenever possible: Hard braking wears down your brake pads and rotors more quickly.
  • Use the brake pedal smoothly and gradually: This will help to extend the life of your brakes.
  • Have your brakes inspected and maintained regularly: This will help to identify and fix any problems early on.
  • Change out your brake fluids at the manufacturer-specified interval or by discretion (if you are familiar with it), especially when it seems to have changed color or has a lot of impurities in it and is no longer clear.

Following these tips will help you keep your brakes in good working order and ensure your safety on the road.