When To Change Brake Pads

When To Change Brake Pads

Brakes rotors and pads obviously wear over time and eventually will need replacing. How long a brake lasts depends on the material of the brake as well as your style of driving. Read on to learn more about how you can maximize the use of your brakes and avoid unneccesary wear and tear.

Brakes need regular maintenance to ensure they are working at their best. Car disc brake systems are made up primarily from brake pads, brake calipers and the brake rotor. Eventually the pads and rotors will need replacing depending on several factors.

Driving Habits

When a driver pushes their brakes, the hardness of which they do so has a large impact on the durability of the brake pads and how long they will last. Some drivers do what is known as “riding the brake” and usually stop in an abrupt fashion while other coast to a stop in a gentle manner. From this one can ascertain gradual, smooth breaking increases the lifespan of a brake pad. At the same time, it is vital you are able to break in abrupt manner when safety requires you to do so.


There is no question the stop and go traffic patterns of urban driving are harder on brake pads than when you are on the open ride outside of towns and cities – obviously, because breaking is less frequent in those circumstances compared to driving in the town or city. When you drive in areas that are mountainous, the steep changes of elevation can cause brakes to wear out far more quickly than when driving on flat roads – simply because the brakes are utilized more often to control speed when going downhill.

Hardness Of Brake Pads

As brake pads are available in many differing compounds, this allows a driver to tailor the hardness or resilience of a brake pad to suit their style of driving. Of course, brakes that have a harder compound usually last longer than brakes that do not, but the hard compound brakes need to be warmed up to perform at their bet. Conversely, softer brake compounds usually work better at lower speeds and are best suited to urban driving. In cases where there may be an excess of heat this may be the cause of the pad compound melting on to the brake rotor and reducing the performance of the brakes.


The materials the brake pad and brake rotor are constructed from also play a part in assessing the durability of the brake. Carbon-ceramic brakes will endure more than standard metal brakes, but they need to be warmed to be as effective. The downside is the former kind of brake is very expensive and are usually only utilized on very high-end sports style cars. Metal or steel brakes are far more common and have proven to be perfectly suitable for a very wide range of driving conditions.

When Do Your Brakes Need Replacing?

In the normal run of things brake pads should be replaced every 50,000 miles and some, depending on their design need to be replaced after every 25,000 miles. However, there are some on the market that do not need to be replaced until after 70,000 miles. To get an idea of more accurate numbers, consult the owner’s manual that came with the car. Other signs to look out for that may indicate brake pad replacement is needed include:

  • When your braking becomes jittery it may be a sign of warping of the rotors. There are treatments available that grind or clean the rotors surface with the goal of making them flat once again. However, in most circumstances it is just safer and less expensive to replace the brake rotor.
  • When you hear a scraping or squeaky noise it is a way the brake pads are telling you they need to be replaced as they have small metal hairs at their base and the sound they make lets the drive know they are short of grippy material needed got sake braking.
  • You must regularly inspect the thickness of your brake pads. A good idea is to do this at each oil change or when the tires are rotated.

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement In Scottsdale

Call or Stop By Our Brake Pad Replacement Shop In Scottsdale, Arizona.  In addition to being a full-service gas station, we employee ASE Certified mechanics that work on imports and domestic vehicles alike.  When you need new brake pads, brake rotors, or other brake services such as a brake fluid system flush our team is here to help!  Conveniently located in Scottsdale we can tend to nearly any vehicle repair or maintenance need.  Stop by our Brake Shop In Scottsdale located at 7171 E Lincoln Dr. Scottsdale, Arizona 85253 or by giving Bridwell Automotive Center a call today (480) 948-4781.

Air In Brake Line Symptoms

Air In Brake Line Symptoms

Air In Brake Line Symptoms

Have your brakes felt soft or a little too spongy?  If you’ve felt a softening of your brakes, there is a good chance you have air in the brake line.  When you feel this in your car it’s critical to take the time to resolve it.  While it could be air causing the soft feeling in the brakes it could be a master cylinder issue as well.

Air In Brake Line Symptoms

Power brakes, that are standard in most modern vehicles, rely on brake fluid to work.  When you depress the brake pedal hydraulic force is transferred to the brake calipers.  They in turn press the pads into the brake rotors to slow or stop the vehicle.  Air is much less dense when compared to the brake fluid.  This means if air is in the lines it will compress too easily.  When this happens, your brakes will feel too soft or even spongy.

  • Brakes Feel Spongy
  • Brakes Feel Soft
  • Brake Pedal Depressed Too Far

If you’ve felt any of these air in the brake line symptoms, don’t delay, get your brakes checked out by our professional team of brake repair technicians.

How Does Air Get In My Brake Lines?

While the brake system in modern vehicles is designed to be air tight, over time air does get in.  This is due to your brake pads needing to move further as the pads wear down.  Your brake calipers extend to maintain a uniform distance.  To do this the hydraulic pistons also need to extend, causing a void in the hydraulic system.  As your pads wear down more brake fluid is needed to supply your system.

Most people aren’t closely monitoring their brake fluid so as the system works harder to depress the brake pads, air is unfortunately drawn into the system.  It is this air that causes your brakes to feel spongy or soft.

How To Bleed Brakes: Getting The Air Out

To return your vehicle’s braking system to like new condition will require removing the air.  This is a job some car owners can do for themselves, but many prefer to leave their car’s safety in the hands of ASE Certified technicians.

Professional Brake Bleeding

In the hands of trained professional auto repair technicians your brake system will be completely voided of air in the system and brake lines.  This ensures the function of your primary safety system, the ability to stop.

DIY Brake Bleeding

You’ll need a helper, safety glasses, wrenches, a jar to catch brake fluid, and a vinyl tube.  Fi you’re doing all 4 brake lines you’ll need about 2 quarts of brake fluid.

Step 1. Fill brake fluid

Make sure that your brake fluid, found in your engine compartment, is fill up to a quarter inch below the maximum level.

Step 2. Find bleeder screws

To do this you’ll need to remove the tires.  Unless you’ve got a lift you’ll likely need to jack each of the tires up individually and block the vehicle so it doesn’t roll. With the tire removed locate the brake syste bleeder screws.  If you’re struggling to loosen a bleeder screw you may need to oil it.

Step 3. Hook Up Tube To Bleeder Screw

Next you’ll want to hook up your vinyl tube that leads to your jar to the bleeder screw.  Start with the one furthers from the master cylinder.  In a lot of vehicles this ends up being the back right tire.

Step 4. Apply The Brakes

This is where your helper comes in handy as someone needs to pump the brakes and then hold the brake pedal down.  This needs to be done and held all the way through the next step.

Step 5. Bleed Off Fluid & Air

With your helper holding down the brake pedal as far as it will go loosen the bleeder screw and allow the brake fluid and air to escape. The brake pedal should go all the way to the floor during this process.  Your helper needs to let you know when the pedal goes all the way down.

Step 6. Tighten Bleeder Screw

Before your helper removes the pressure from the brake pedal make sure you tighten your bleeder screws back down. If your helper removes their foot before this is done you’ll effectively add air to your brake lines.

Repeat this step until there’s no air bubbles!

Step 7. Replenish Fluid As You Work

Make sure you’re replenishing the brake fluid between your tires and keeping it a quarter inch below the maximum. Try to do your brakes starting with the back right, then left, followed by the right front then left front.

Step 8. Refill Master Cylinder

Ensure all your bleeder screws are tightened back down and then fill your master cylinder brake fluid reservoir to the right level. This process should, when done right, remove the air from your brake system.  You’ll be back to having solid braking and confidence on the road.

Solo Brake Bleeding –   For motorists that have the time they can purchase a vacuum pump kit to remove the air.  Kits usually run about $35 dollars with tax and are good for DIY people who will use them often.  They simply hook up to the bleeder screw and pull the air out with some pumping action.

Air In Brake Line After Bleeding

If you’ve tried these steps and still feel like you’ve got air in the brake line after bleeding, you should contact us for professional repair.  We have the tools, training, and time to hunt down whatever is causing your brakes to feel unresponsive.  Let our trained team of ASE Certified brake repair technicians help restore your safety and confidence in your vehicle.

How To Replace A Brake Line

Replacing a brake line is typically a job that requires specialized tools and is best handled on a lift at our shop.  These are the steps we take to replace brake lines that are overly corroded, damaged, and cannot be repaired.   For this job you’ll need a line wrench that’s meant for flared nut.

Step 1: Jack Up The Vehicle

You’ll need to have the wheel off and to do so you need to place a jack under the vehicle and raise it.  In our shop we simply put it on a lift to have a rock solid platform to handle these types of repairs.

Step 2: Remove The Wheel

To give yourself better access to the brake line you will need to remove the wheel.  Get your lug wrench and loosen your lug nuts.  With the tire off it will be much easier to see any corrosion and remove the brake line or lines that aren’t safe.

Step 3. Spray Clips & Connections

Brake lines are dirty and exposed to all sorts of road conditions and might be seized.  Start by using penetrating lubricant to spray rusted clips and where your brake line meets the drum or caliper.  It takes time for this spray to work so you will want to give it 30 min to 1 hour.

Step 4. Remove Fittings With Line Wrench

The fittings hold the line against the drum and the caliper.  Using your line wrench loosen all the fittings and be ready to cap off your brake lines.  You will likely need a second wrench to loosen the fittings.

Step 5. Cap Brake Lines

With the brake line removed the system will ooze brake fluid.  Brake fluid will ruin your paint and stain concrete.  Cap off the lines as fast as possible and make sure to rinse your vehicle if any gets on the paint with cool water immediately.

Step 6. Clips & Fasteners

Along the body and struts your brake line is held on by fasteners and clips.  You’ll need to remove them to get the brake line out before installing the new one.  Use a wrench to remove all the fasteners and remove the brake line from the vehicle.

Step 7. New Brake Line Installation

Install the new brake line using your line wrench.  If your vehicle calls for copper washers make sure to use them.  It’s critical to use the line wrench when tightening the fittings as it’s made for the job.  Otherwise you run the risk of ruining the bolts.

Step 8. Fill Brake Fluid, Bleed Air, & Test

It’s impossible not to lose a little brake fluid during a line replacement.  Fill up your brake fluid and then bleed air from the lines.  If you skip the bleeding air step you’ll have spongy brakes and a higher chance of early corrosion in the new brake line.  Once that’s done you should test your brakes while parked in your driveway.  Make sure they work properly before taking your car for a short test drive.

Schedule Brake Repair Services

If you live or work near Scottsdale Bridwell Automotive Center is your source for fast, affordable, and efficient brake and auto repairs.  We hire repair technicians with the best training and certifications so you have confidence in all of our brake repairs.  Please call to ask questions or schedule your brake repair appointment.

Call  (480) 948-4781 or Contact Us

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy?

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy?

Why Do My Brakes Feel Spongy?

There are 5 common reasons your brakes may feel spongy: air in the brake lines, low fluid, damaged lines, worn cylinders, or damaged calipers.

It’s scary if we go to stop and our car’s brakes feel spongy. Your confidence in driving and feeling of safety is affected.

Restoring your manufacturer’s intended brake strength is key to regaining your driving confidence.

We will discuss the common reasons brakes feel spongy in this article.

5 Common Reasons Brakes Feel Spongy

There are 5 fairly common reasons brakes will being to feel spongy.  While gearheads and regular motorists love to talk about acceleration stopping power many times is forgotten.  Getting to 100 is fun but it’s less fun to think about emergency braking situations.  If you’ve noticed diminished brake strength or a spongy feeling make sure you get a brake inspection to ensure your safety and the safety of other motorists.

1.      Damaged Brake Lines

Brake lines can become damaged or start to rust if the vehicle has been driven near saltwater or in areas that spread salt on snow.  These conditions cause the brake lines to become fragile, start leaking, or completely break.  If you’ve been involved in an auto collision the brake lines could also be compromised.

2.      Air In Brake Lines

If your brake fluid is low or brake pads are worn down air can be drawn into your brake system.  Air is more compressible than hydraulic fluid and will cause a spongy feeling in your brakes.  This is by far the most common cause of spongy feeling brakes and can be repaired by brake repair technicians.  Read more about air in brake lines.

3.      Worn Brake Cylinders

Your car’s master cylinder distributes the pressure of the hydraulic fluid in your brake system.  When you apply the brake the master cylinder pushes the hydraulic fluid so the brake pads are pressed against the discs and the vehicle slows.  If the master cylinder is worn it might have leaks or be broken.  This is a common potential cause of spongy brakes.

4.      Damaged Brake Calipers

If your car is pulling to one side when you apply the brakes, you could have damaged calipers.  As you drive and apply your brakes intense heat is created via friction.  In some cases this damage causes a screeching sound as you apply the brakes.  This high head does cause wear on components such as the calipers and discs.

5.      Low Or Old Brake Fluid

Brake fluid by nature absorbs water.  This means over time the brake fluid has excessive moisture which can compromise your brake lines with rust.  If you bad brake fluid or not enough brake fluid it will cause your brakes to feel soft or spongy.  It’s important to get them checked out and new fluid added when necessary.

Brake Repair Services

If you have a car, truck, or other vehicle and your brakes are feeling spongy; bring it into Bridwell Automotive Center.  Our team can track down why your brakes feel spongy, offer affordable brake repair quotes, and perform the repairs quickly and correctly.  Our ASE Certified team performs brake repair services for virtually any make or model of vehicle.

Call  (480) 948-4781 or Contact Us

Why are my brakes squealing?

Why Are My Brakes Squealing?

Why Are My Brakes Squealing?

It happens to just about everyone at some point during car ownership, the brakes start making noises.  That leaves motorist asking, “Why are my brakes squealing?”.  It can be a frustrating and embarrassing if your car squeals every time you slow down and stop at lights, stop signs, and in parking lots.  Squealing brakes at low speed or when stopping is a sign you should pay attention to.

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Why Do Brakes Squeal?

There is a variety of reasons that your brakes will squeal.  It can happen right after a brake job if insulation or clips aren’t properly installed.  It also happens as brakes, rotors, and other parts of your vehicle’s braking system wear out and need repair.  The most common reason is worn brake pads as they are designed with an indicator that causes that tell tell high pitched squeal.  Read about all the possible reasons that your brakes are squealing below.

New Brakes That Squeal

If you’ve recently had your brakes done and they are squealing you need to take them back to the shop.  There is a chance that the calipers, pad insulators, or anti rattle clips are loose.  When new brakes squeal it is typically the sound of those loose items vibrating against the brake pads.  This correction of a brake service should be covered without additional charge.

Worn Brake Pads

One of the most common reasons your brakes will squeal is when the pads are worn.  Brake pads are made from taking a material that causes friction and mounting it to a steel backing.  As you apply the brakes in the vehicle the brakes press this material against the rotors to slow the vehicle by friction. When the material that is designed to cause the friction that slows the car wears down, it will begin to squeal. Typically, this is caused by the brake pad wear indicator spring.  When the pad gets thin it makes contact with the rotor and causes a high pitch squealing sound.  This sound lets you know that it’s time to take your vehicle into the brake shop.  In some cases, your brakes will not have a wear indicator and it will actually be the steel backing making contact and damaging your rotors.

Glazed Rotors & Brake Pads

Your brakes will also squeal when they are glazed.  The caliper that pressure the brake pad down will get stuck and the brake will stay partially applied.  This keeps the pad in constant contact with the rotor, even at high speeds.  The friction created by this creates heat by excessive friction.  The friction material in the brake pads will crystalize and harden due to this excessive heat.  As they harden, crystalize, and glaze they will make noise and become less effective in slowing the vehicle.  The only solution is replacing the brake pads and either replacing the rotors or resurfacing them.

Broken Anti Rattle Clips

Your brake pads are held on the calipers by pad stays.  Anti rattle clips are used to eliminate rattling or vibration as the brake is applied. If your brakes are squealing there’s a chance that the anti rattle clips are either broken or worn your pads will vibrate against the rotor and cause a squealing noise.  The only way to resolve this problem is to simply replace the anti rattle clips.

Poor Pad Insulation & Shims

As vehicles are produced by auto manufacturers insulation shims are set between the brake caliper and the steel backing of the brake pads.  This shim provides insulation that eliminates squealing.  The shims can wear out but can also be discarded during brake jobs. As you get new brake pads its important to either replace the insulation shims or use insulation gel to prevent the squealing.  If you’ve had a recent brake job and you’re hearing this squeal take it back and have them fix it!

Poor Rotor Surfacing

As brake jobs are done the rotors need to be resurfaced.  This process removes glazing and sets the rotors back to “true”, which is being even and flat. Any grooves dug by pads that were dragging or gouges in the rotors are removed along with adding a non directional surface finish that helps new pads wear in correctly.  You should keep in mind that if you’ve had a brake job and you feel brake pedal pulsing or hear squealing they might not have resurfaced the rotors as part of your brake job.

Scottsdale Brake Shop

If you work or live in Scottsdale and need brake repair by a quality brake shop, Bridwell Automotive Center is here to help!  Our team of ASE Certified technicians work on all makes, models, and types of vehicles and can find what’s causing your brakes to squeal and fix it!  From daily drivers and commuter cars to high performance or luxury vehicles we can handle any job.  If your brakes are squealing please call our brake shop for repair at 480-948-4781.