Car Brake Service

Do you remember how Fred Flintstone powered and stopped his car with his feet? Fortunately, we're legions beyond the Flintstone era, but there's something to be said for Fred's braking style. Believe it or not, pushing down on the brake pedal in your vehicle is akin to Fred's method of braking. The only difference is that we don't have enough force or strength to stop a modern car, making our brakes vital to our vehicle's performance and our safety on the road. So, what does this have to do with your search for car brake service?

Your search likely stems from issues with your brakes, specifically how your vehicle performs when you engage the brake pedal. These issues can include strange sounds like screeching when the brakes are applied, fluid leaks, decreased resistance when the brake pedal is engaged, poor handling, or vehicle vibrations. It may even take longer for you to stop the vehicle, which puts you at greater risk of collision.

Whatever the issue, your search brought you to the experts at Thomas Nissan of Joliet. Our state-of-the-art service department is one of the best in the area and is staffed by highly trained technicians that can diagnose all your brake problems, such as worn brake pads or rotors. There's nothing the team can't handle, and that's why so many customers rely on us for all their automotive needs.

For us, our work doesn't start when you venture to our service department; it starts right now. We believe that knowledge is power, so we're here to help you learn more about your brakes and the warning signs to look for when you're behind the wheel. Let's dive in!

A new brake pad is shown on a vehicle.

Worn Brake Pads: Signs and Symptoms

Do you know the signs of worn brake pads? Recognizing the symptoms is easier when you understand how brake pads work. So, what are the symptoms, and how do the brake pads help your vehicle stop?

The common symptoms of worn brake pads are:

  • Abnormal noises like grinding or squeaking.
  • Atypical performance, such as your vehicle taking longer to stop.
  • An indicator akin to the "Check Engine Light" on the driver information display.

Your vehicle's stopping power relies on discs, known as rotors, that sit behind each wheel. These rotors have a caliper or clamp-like device that squeezes them from both sides when you engage the brake pedal. As the calipers squeeze, it creates friction and causes the wheels to slow to a stop.

Now, think about the metal of a caliper rubbing against the metal of a rotor. The sound would be pretty awful, wouldn't it? That's where brake pads play a vital role. These removable pads are positioned within the calipers, which means they wear down every time you hit the brakes. Once the brake pads reach a certain point, you can hear them squeal as the metal caliper grinds against the rotor. This is why abnormal noises are a key indicator that it's time to replace the brake pads.

Beyond strange noises, you may also notice that the brake pedal vibrates, the car takes longer to stop, or the front of the vehicle pulls to one side. These issues occur because, as brake pads wear down, they are more susceptible to the heat generated from the friction between the caliper and rotor. The heat breaks down the pad's adhesive, causing it to smear across the surface of the rotor and disc in what's known as "glazing." When the glaze is uneven, it can cause vibrations in the brake pedal.

Just as glazing doesn't always occur uniformly, your brake pads may wear unevenly. In this case, your vehicle is likely to pull to one side when you brake. But what happens when your car takes longer to stop? This is often caused by "riding the brakes," such as constantly braking down a steep descent. This extended braking forces the brake pads and rotors to heat up, reducing the level of friction over time. The result is known as brake fade.

Used brake pads are shown after a car brake service.

Brake Pads: Changing Two or Four

It's time to change your brake pads, but do you have to change all four? Since brake pads and rotors work in pairs, you can change only the front brake pads. While brake pads are typically sold in sets of four, you can set the rear brake pads aside for later should you need them.

So, why is it ok to change only one set of brake pads at a time? Your vehicle's braking power isn't evenly distributed. Think about how your car lurches forward when you suddenly step on the brakes. Most of your car's braking power is in the front, which means the front brake pads experience more friction and more wear and tear. Automakers mitigate this rapid wear by using brake pads designed to absorb the friction, pressure, and shock of heavy braking.

Even with the resilient design, your brake pads wear unevenly. Since your front brakes do most of the work, the front brake pads are typically the first to wear down and, as a result, need to be replaced more frequently. Fortunately, you're in good hands with the Thomas Nissan team, who will replace the front brake pads and inspect the rear pads, looking for signs of uneven wear that might threaten your safety on the road.

A mechanic is shown preforming a car brake service.

Bad Rotors: Signs and Symptoms

The easiest way to know if your rotors need to be replaced is to remember V.I.B.E., which stands for vibrating steering wheel, intermittent squealing, blue-colored rotors, and excessive wear. Yes, your vehicle will give you a "vibe" when its rotors are bad, which means it's time to head over to our service department. But, before you do, let's break down these symptoms even further.


Your brake pedal will vibrate when you need new brake pads, but your steering wheel can vibrate when it's time to replace the rotors. Like brake pads, friction and excessive heat can cause the rotors to wear down or warp. When this occurs, the brake pads clamp down on an uneven surface that vibrates the steering wheel and affects your braking and steering.

Intermittent Squealing

Worn brake pads screech anytime you engage the brakes, but worn rotors might only squeal occasionally. The squeal is about as enjoyable as a nail on a chalkboard, but what causes it? Uneven wear can form grooves in the rotors, forcing metal to rub against metal when the brakes are engaged.

Blue-Hued Rotors

Your rotors are located behind the wheels, making them easy to inspect. Since rotors are made of metal, they should look like metal. Pretty simple, right? Excessive heat can cause your rotors to turn blue over time, especially if you often ride the brakes. So, when you find your rotors are blue in color, it's time to head into our service department for an inspection.

Excessive Wear and Tear

Just as your brake pads wear down with use, so will your rotors. Excessive wear and tear is part of owning a vehicle, especially with components like rotors that work behind the scenes. Extreme heat and the sheer force of the front brakes lead to many physical deformities like grooves that can cause your rotors and brake pads to squeal. Your driving and braking style determines how fast this wear occurs and how often you have to change the rotors.


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1427 North Larkin Ave, Joliet, IL, 60435
Thomas Nissan 41.5495444, -88.1258532.