July 13, 2021

Summer is driving season. It’s a time for family road trips, driving back roads with the windows down, or even getting out the date-night convertible. Unfortunately, this extra driving combined with hot summer days can take a toll on your brakes. Especially if you’ve neglected your vehicle’s brake system.

Many people take their brakes for granted. This system often goes unnoticed and unmaintained until there is a problem. High temperatures, more stop-and-go driving, towing campers, boats, or personal watercraft, and other severe summer conditions add up to much more stress on brake pads, rotors, and even brake fluid.

With these factors in mind, here are answers to common questions people have about one of the most critical vehicle systems—the brakes.

1. Why are my brakes squeaking?

The most common source of brake squeaking is from worn out brake pads. The noise is actually created by metal warning tabs that clip into the brake assembly with brake pads. When the pads wear down to the warning tab, it begins to rub against the rotor providing the vehicle owner with the audible warning to have their brakes serviced.

Rust, other debris on brake rotors, or warped/glazed rotors from overheating, can all cause brake squeaking. Again, the squeaking is a warning sign that your brakes need to be checked by a professional automotive shop.

2. How often should I change my brake pads?

Brake pads should be changed every 40,000 to 50,000 miles on average. This number can vary depending on brake rotor condition, brake pad quality, extreme driving conditions, and severe driving styles. Often, your vehicle will give you warning signs, such as squealing or scraping, when the brake pads need replacing. If you have any concerns, have the brake pads inspected by an automotive professional.

3. Why does my brake pedal feel squishy?

The most common cause of a soft or spongy brake pedal is air in the brake lines. Over time, moisture or air can enter the brake lines and prevent the proper flow of brake fluid. A leak in the brake lines, disc brake caliper, or master cylinder can also lead to a squishy brake pedal. In either case, you should have your brakes repaired and the old brake fluid removed and replaced with a BG Brake Service at your local BG shop.

4. Can brakes work without brake fluid?

Absolutely not! Never drive a vehicle without brake fluid. Have the vehicle towed to a professional shop for repairs. Brake fluid is critical to the function of the brake system because it allows adequate force to be applied to the brake pads and rotors to stop the vehicle. 

5. What causes brakes to fail?

Overheated brake pads are a common cause of brake failure. Excessive heat causes brake pads to become hard and brittle, drastically reducing the ability of the pads to grip the brake rotors to stop the vehicle.

Damaged brake rotors can decrease the brake pad life and compromise the stopping power of your vehicle’s brake system. Rotors can be repaired or resurfaced by your shop when you have new brake pads installed.

The loss of brake fluid and the hydraulic stopping pressure it provides will also cause your brakes to fail. Checking your vehicle’s brake fluid regularly could prevent costly repairs, or worse, an accident resulting from brake failure.

Yes, summer heat, dusty conditions, and increased driving time can all be hard on your car’s brakes. But with some basic information about brakes and a well-planned maintenance schedule for your brake system, including a BG Brake Service, there’s no stopping the summer fun!


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