Brake rotors and pads are wear items for your vehicle – meaning it’s not if they wear out and need replacing, but when. As a case study of what symptoms to look for when you need to replace your brakes, let’s use a 2018 Toyota Tundra that recently came into the shop for just that as a case study.
Symptoms of Bad Rotors
The customer brought this vehicle in because there was a lot of shaking in both his steering wheel and brake pedal when he applied the brakes. This is a tell-tale sign of warped brake rotors – a common brake failure that occurs when your rotors get excessively hot and, thus, warp. Drivers can accelerate rotor warping by frequently braking hard. Conversely, you can prolong your brake rotor life by avoiding aggressive braking behavior as well as not riding the brakes when going downhill. The latter applies continuous friction to the rotors for prolonged periods of time, continuously increasing the rotor temperature without giving them the chance to cool off. This is the quickest way to permanently damage your rotors.
Symptoms of Bad Brake Pads
This particular Toyota Tundra was also due for a brake pad change. We recommend replacing your brake pads when you have 3mm or less of brake pad material remaining. Replacing the pads before they get beyond this point will – if you happen to have rotors that are in decent shape – preserve the life of the rotors. If you drive your vehicle with completely worn brake pads you will not only have significantly reduced stopping power, but also you will also start to etch grooves into your brake rotors from where components are rubbing metal-to-metal (and thus permanently damaging them). Replacing your brake pads before they are too far gone will actually save you money by preventing otherwise unnecessary repairs. Now that this Tundra has both new pads and rotors it will have a steady steering wheel and brake pedal when the driver applies the brakes. The system should not need serving for another roughly 60,000 miles.
While we had the Tundra in our shop, we looked it over for other potential maintenance or safety issues the customer may be unaware of. This is common practice whenever we get a vehicle in for service. If we find anything beyond what you brought the vehicle in for, we’ll explain the urgency of the matter to you along with what your repair options are.