NuBrakes Blog Brake Inspection: Signs you need one and How to do it Image

Brake Inspection: Signs you need one and How to do it

Getting a brake inspection ensures your vehicle can stop properly and involves an expert mechanic to check the entire braking system of a vehicle, including:

Key Takeaways: 

  • Thorough brake system examination by technicians includes a test drive, visual inspection, brake pedal check, fluid analysis, hose and line inspection, undercarriage check, and evaluation of wheel and braking components to ensure proper vehicle functioning

  • Dashboard warnings or lights, leaking brake fluid, changes in brake response, new noises, vibration, spongy or hard brakes, engine misfiring, and pulling to one side are signs you need a brake inspection. Inspect brakes every 10-12k miles or once a year; check the manual for the recommended interval.

How To Do A Brake Inspection

Technicians or experts should examine every aspect of the braking system to make sure the vehicle is running properly.

  • Test-drive or Road Test

    The experts should drive the vehicle to observe the problems experienced by the customer. A test drive allows the mechanic to experience the feel, smells, or sounds, and document anything abnormal to get an idea of the problems associated with the vehicle. During this time, the mechanic should also check the brake lights.

  • Visual Inspection

    The experts will then pop the vehicle’s hood to visually inspect the engine area after the test drive. They should inspect the master cylinder, brake lines, power boosters, vacuum hose, and combination valve and look for any wear, damage, or leaks in these components.

  • Brake Pedal Inspection

    The brake pedal is checked for three important things:

    • Brake Pedal Height. This refers to measuring the brake pedal to the vehicle’s floor at rest.
    • Brake Pedal Free Play. This is the distance of how far a pedal moves before the master cylinder starts to apply brake pressure to the brakes.
    • Brake Pedal Reserve Distance. The reserve distance is between the brake pedals and the vehicle’s floor when the brakes get applied.
  • Brake Fluid Analysis

    A brake fluid test should be done next by the technician or expert by putting a test strip into the brake fluid to diagnose its condition. The test ensures that the brake fluid is in good condition and remains uncontaminated with other elements. The mechanic should also check if the fluid is too low and may need refilling.

    Brake fluid is important because it exerts force to compress the brake pads and activate the brakes when you step on the brake pedal. It is recommended that you change the fluid every year or two to ensure the smooth functioning of the brakes.

  • Brake Hose and Line Inspection

    Experts should then check the brake hoses and lines after initially inspecting the brake fluid. There may be a leak in the lines if the master cylinder is low. Experts should check the lines and hoses for cracks and moisture. They should then place cardboard under the vehicle and step on the brakes multiple times to check for any leakage.

  • Undercarriage Inspection

    The experts should raise the vehicle on a lift after the under-the-hood analysis. The mechanic should inspect the undercarriage for wear, leaks, or physical damage during this time. The inspection should also include the mounting brackets, front brake hoses, and wheel cylinders for rust and damage as well as any other abnormalities if noticed.

  • Wheel Component Inspection

    The technicians or experts should then lower the vehicle as it remains on the lift to check wheel bearings for excessive movements or hazards. They should remove the wheels to inspect the lug nut holes and the hub for damage or unsafe wear.

    The caliper assemblies should be checked to ensure no leaking fluids or rusted caliper slides. Brake motors should also be checked for physical damage.

  • Assessment of Braking Components

    The experts or technicians should then remove the rear brake drums or discs to inspect them for various problems like hard spots and cracks. They should compare their findings with the manufacturer’s specifications.

    The brake check ends with inspections of:

    • Springs
    • Pins
    • Wheel cylinders
    • Brake pads
    • Brake rotor or brake discs
    • Drum brake
    • Brake caliper
    • Washers
    • Braking plates
    • Brake shoes
    • Emergency brake

    The mechanic should inspect each component for distortion, damage, or abnormal wear and tear.

Signs You Should Get a Brake Inspection

  • Dashboard Warnings or Lights

    The brake light, ABS light, or the engine light of the vehicle may alert you that there are possible brake problems.

  • Leaking Brake Fluid

    Any brake fluid leakage in the vehicle requires an immediate inspection as you may lose the ability to brake.

  • Changes in the Brake Response

    If the vehicle takes longer than normal to slow down or stop and the driver needs to press the pedal further to exert more pressure to huld the brakes, you may have a braking system that needs inspection.

  • New Noises in the Vehicle

    Grinding, squealing, squeaking, or rattling could indicate problems with the rotors and brake pads. Hissing sounds in the vehicle indicate brake fluid leakage or air in the brake lines. Knocking, clicking, or clunking noises indicate suspension problems.

  • Vibration or Shaking When Braking

    If the vehicle is making rough stops, this could mean the rotors are warped. Note that if a brake pedal is pulsing during a hard stop, this could also mean that the ABS system is active.

  • Spongy or Soft Brakes

    Soft or spongy brakes could mean low brake fluid, air in the brake lines, or brake shoe issues.

  • Stiff or Hard Brakes

    Contamination in the brake fluid or a bad sealing of the master cylinder and the brake booster may lead to hard or stiff brakes.

  • Engine Stalling or Misfiring

    A bad power brake booster can lead to misfiring or stalling of the vehicle engines.

  • Vehicle Pulling To One Side

    If the vehicle continuously pulls to a particular side when braking, it may have faulty brake hardware or a hydraulic issue that causes uneven brake pad wear.

How Often Should You Get the Braking System Inspected?

Typically it would be best to get your brakes inspected every 10000 to 12000 miles or once a year, but check your vehicle’s manual for the recommended brake inspection interval.


Brake inspections are important to ensure your safety on the road. A typical brake inspection takes less than 30 minutes but may take longer if the vehicle requires repairs and maintenance.

If you are looking for the most convenient brake inspection services for your vehicle, you should consider NuBrakes.

NuBrakes is a mobile brake repair service that comes to your home or office for brakes, oil change, general car maintenance, and more. 

Contact us today to get a free quote on your brake inspection.

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