How can I tell if my brakes need to be replaced?

I own a 2004 Pontiac Vibe. It is the base model and an automatic. I bought it used in February 2005 so I don't know when the brakes have been serviced last.

Lately I've noticed that there is a squeeking noise when I brake. I don't want to take it to the shop because I don't want them to tell me that they need to be replaced ASAP when in reality it's not that bad.

I'll start to slow down but the squeeking noise doesn't appear until right before I fully stop. It also makes a "thud" noise right when it's stopping. I have to press down on the brake pedal quite a bit before stopping.

Do I get the whole ensemble replaced or just the pads? How can I tell what needs to be done without paying an arm and a leg?

Is there anything I need to buy to put on the brakes? Cleaners or anything?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

10 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Most likely the brake pads are worn to the point that the wear indicator is hitting the rotor thus causing a squeek.

    New pads may be all that is required to fix your brakes. Loaded calipers is not a bad way to go because sometimes recompressing old calipers just doesn't work out and the cost is not that much more. Loaded means that new pads are included. Having the rotors resurfaced is a good idea as it eliminates a break in period. New rotors do not cost that much more than resurfacing.

    A good shop will show you what is wrong if you ask them to.

    If they refuse to do this go somewhere else.

    Source(s): been a mechanic for 30+ years
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  • 1 decade ago

    When the brakes are squeaking, you definitely need them looked at. Most cars' brakes are designed to make that squealing noise when they need replacement (mine have done that when new brake pads were needed). What exactly is wrong is hard to say...could be just brake pads, could be bad rotors on top of that...either way, the fact that you're having to push harder to brake is pretty serious. Most places will check the problem out for free and tell you what's wrong and how much the repair will cost you. If you don't like the price, you can take it for a free, second opinion somewhere else. All I can say is, if you take it to a dealer rather than a regular mechanic, they will do a good job but they are going to charge you an arm, a leg, and then some to fix anything!

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  • 1 decade ago

    Squeeking when u stop is just dry brake calipers, nothing to worry about, if you get a grinding sound like metal on metal then you need to get you pads replaced, if you have a shudder when braking you may need to get you disc calipers machined, Take ur wheel off and look in between you brake calipers they are the things that are bolted onto the big round disc, if the pads inside still have padding on them they are ok, you can blow the dust out with a airhose but make sure u wear a mask, then to stop the squeak you can buy a can of anti-squeak beliebe it or not , spray that on., but usually all that needs replacing would be the pads if they are gone nothing else. On a 2004 Pontiac the calipers and disc rotors would be fine still, they should last for ever as long as you keep ur pads up to date and dont let them wear down to metal. Cheers.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It sounds like you need new pads. There is a built in sensor that makes that squealing sound when it is time to replace them. If you wait too long you will cause damage to your rotors and it will cost you a bunch more. You should also check your brake fluid. If it is low it could cause the delay in braking. Brake fluid is cheap and you should check it often. It's just like checking the oil. There is a little dipstick that has a measure line on it. Don't overfill though.

    You shouldn't need to put anything on your brakes. Just a good car wash should keep them in good condition.

    If you go to a reputable place like; Minieke or Midas you won't get ripped off. Don't wait too long!

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  • 1 decade ago

    Ask around maybe a friend knows someone who can help, brakes are important. I usually ask to be called and given an estimate before I will authorize any work done.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It matters on the stopping. If you feel a jolt as if something is loose or feel a fade in braking, then your brakes are wearing out. If you take care of your brakes and don't use them recklessly, then they wont wear out. I would like to ask if you have drum brakes or disk brakes?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You need to replace your brake pads. The squealing is the wear indicator letting you know the brakes are low.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    definately, the noise combined with the fact that your pedal needs to be pushed further down mean 2 things,

    You need new brakes and

    the brakeline needs to be bled - dont let them jerk u around that job shouldnt cost more than 100 bucks at the very most.

    I just had mine done it costed $60

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  • 1 decade ago

    When they start to grind!!!!!! My mother made me drive like that a few months ago, I was only 17!!! I'm glad I'm still alive. You should get it check out thought if they aren't catching the way the use to. Believe me its too dangerous to risk!

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  • 1 decade ago

    when they quit stopping car from forward or backward movement.

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