Your vehicle's brakes should always be in good working condition, but how do you know when it's time to come in to Midwest Ford to get them serviced? Unlike with oil or air filters, it can be difficult to know exactly the right time for brake maintenance. Here's a look at how your brakes work - and a few things you can watch out for to make sure you're not waiting until it's too late to do the necessary maintenance.

Brake Basics

Brakes are made up of several components, including pads, rotors, calipers, and linings. When you compress the pedal, it causes brake fluid to flow to the calipers, thus compressing them. This brings the pads into contact with the rotors, causing friction and slowing your vehicle. When most people say they need new brakes, they're referring to the brake pads. If you put fewer miles on your car but drive mostly in the city, you'll put more wear and tear on your brake pads than if you rack up more miles but drive mostly on the open road.

Warning Signs

There are a few ways to tell if you need new brakes. First, brake pads often have a built-in metal strip that rubs on the rotor to create a squealing sound when the brake pad is low. So, if you hear squeaking or squealing when you hit the brakes, you need maintenance. And if your brake pedal pulses or if you hear grinding, it's a smart idea to bring in your car for brake care.

Brake Fluid

Because brakes are hydraulic, it's important to top off the brake fluid when necessary. In many cases, the brake fluid levels will get low when your brake pads are wearing thin. If that's the case, then be sure to replace your brake pads. Brake fluid should be at or above the "MIN" line but not past the "MAX" line. Check your owner's manual for more information about how to top off brake fluid levels.

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