Each time you apply the brakes while driving, it’s the brake pads that provide a safe and reliable stop. Pressure and friction activate the vehicle’s brake rotor, which slows down and stops the wheels from rotating. Driving with worn brake pads can be dangerous and cause costly car damage. If you’re unsure about when to replace them and how to tell if new ones are needed, pay attention to the following signs.

3 Ways to Tell Your Car Needs New Brake Pads

1. Brake Pedal Vibrations

Frequent vibrations or pulsations when you step on the brake could indicate worn-out pads. The shaking is likely caused by the deterioration of resin that keeps the pads held together. Over time, the resin may stop spreading across the brake rotor, which helps bring the vehicle to a safe stop.

The uneven distribution is likely caused by overheated brake pads that may start to vibrate without adequate resin. If you start to notice repeated vibrating while applying the brakes, it may be time for a new set of pads. 

2. Unusual Noises


There are pins, bolts or clips that keep the brake pads securely in place. If the components detach or become loose, you may hear clicking sounds when pressing the brake pedal. Likewise, when pads are worn down, the wear indicator tabs will start to scrape against the rotor. 

Squealing or scraping sounds emerge during brake pedal operation. Grinding sounds are typically caused by metal on the disc and caliper making contact. When either of these noises is present, a brake pad replacement will provide proper restoration. 

3. Pulling to One Side

Another telltale sign of failing brake pads is when your vehicle pulls to one side when braking. This will typically occur due to one set of pads getting thinner than those on the other side. If not replaced, bigger problems may emerge, such as wheel bearing, ball joint, and brake caliper damage. An experienced auto repair technician will diagnose the cause and install a new set of pads to eliminate the pulling to one side and reinstate safe steering. 


By paying attention to changes in your vehicle’s braking patterns, you can get the problems fixed and have peace of mind while driving. Kalispell Alignment & Auto Repair specializes in expert brake pad installations. The Kalispell, MT-based shop uses precise diagnostic technology to pinpoint all issues with your domestic and import cars, trucks, and SUVs. You can count on the team of ASE®-certified technicians to get the job done right the first time at budget-friendly rates. Schedule an appointment to get your brakes checked by calling (406) 755-0234. Visit the website for the complete lineup of automotive care services.