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Video:How to Check Brakes

with Matt Ediger

Learn how to properly check brakes on your car. Here, see step-by-step instructions on how to check brakes on your car at home.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Check Brakes

Hi, I'm Matt Ediger for About.com and this is how to check your cars' brakes.

Information About Checking Brakes

Your cars brakes are one of the if not the most important aspect of your vehicle and, should be well taken care of. In this video we'll show you the parts and how they work. We'll show you how you can do this in your drive way but, for demonstrative purposes we’ll be using a car lift.

How to Know When It's Time to Check Brakes

If your Car is not stopping like it used to, the brake pedal travels farther than you think it should, it pulls or shudders under braking, or you hear a high pitched squeaking or scratching noise it probably means your due for a brake job.

Supplies for Checking Brakes

To see if you need brake pads, you will need the following tools:
  • Jack and jack-stand
  • tire iron
  • and a flashlight to help you see

Checking Brakes on a Car

To check the thickness of your pads you should follow these steps: Park the car on a flat level surface, and engage the parking brake with a tire iron loosen but do not remove the lug nuts, you wont be able to loosen the nuts with the wheel in the air. Jack the car up enough so that the wheel spins freely, place a jack-stand on a sturdy surface under the car such as the frame or sub-frame. Don't place it under the floor-pan. Once you've found a good place for your jack stand you can lower the jack and place it off to the side. It's not a bad idea to place a wheel chock behind one of the other tires. You can now remove the lug nuts from the wheel. Place them in an area where you wont lose them. Take off the wheel and put it to the side. At this point get out your flashlight and take a look at your caliper you can usually see the pad and how much material is left. If the friction surface is thinner than about 3 mm then it's time for new pads. Make sure you’re looking at the friction material and not the backing plate. The minimum thickness for brake pads should be about ¼ of an inch, which is about three millimeters, or the thickness of three pennies stacked together. Any thinner than this and you should consider getting new pads.

Placing the wheel back on is just as easy as taking it off; grab the wheel at 4 and 8 o’clock and place it onto the wheel studs, start by hand the lug nuts, then, with your tire iron cinch them down you wont be able to properly torque them until the car is on the ground again. Using your jack raise up the car high enough so that you can remove the jack stand then slowly let the car down. At this point using either your tire iron or torque wrench tighten the lug nuts to the recommended specification.

Thanks for watching; we hope that this video has taught you a bit more regarding the components of your car. If you would like to learn more please find us on the web at About.com
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