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How To: Visually Check Your Brakes

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Most manufacturers suggest that your brakes be checked every 10,000 miles or as soon as they begin to squeal or pull to one side. When brakes are worn the brake pedal will also flutter – this is not to be confused with the normal pulsing of ABS brakes when the brakes are applied in an emergency stop. Bavarian Imports will be more than happy to assist you in professionally inspecting your braking system, but in this article we will share with you a few tips at diagnosing worn brakes yourself.

Step 1: Wheel Removal

Locate the jack points on your vehicle, which are metal plates underneath the vehicle. Using a floor jack, lift the car until the wheels are off of the ground. For safety purposes we recommend you use wheel chocks behind or in front (depending on the grade of the ground or surface you are working on) of the tires not lifted from the ground. Using an impact gun or a tire iron, remove the lug nuts off of the wheel. Remove the tire from the vehicle.

Step 2: Inspect the Brake Disc

Please do not attempt to remove the brake disc, better known as a rotor. Check the visible part of the disc for heavy rust, scoring, or uneven wear. Rust is usually harmless unless the rust has built up over several years. Scoring and uneven wear can become a safety hazard. If you notice scoring and uneven wear allow our technician to inspect them and we will inform you whether they need to be replaced or can be reconditioned.

Step 3: Inspect the Caliper

The brake caliper is the component that sits around the disc and holds the brake pads. This component will be very hot if the vehicle was recently driven. Grasp and gently shake the caliper to check for secured mounting of this component.

Step 4: Inspect Brake Pads

Look through the inspection hole in the dust shield on the caliper and look at the brake pads inside. If the linings of the pad are very thin compared to a new set, it is most likely time to replace them. If the pads are worn down to the metal backing plate, they definitely need to be replaced in addition to the brake discs needing to be resurfaced or replaced as well.

Step 5: Reinstall the Tire

Place the tire back on the hub and reattach the lug nuts. Lower the jack to return the vehicle to the ground. Based off of your personal inspection you can now decide if your brakes need to be replaced or not.

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