Signs That Your Heavy-Duty Truck Brakes Need to Be Replaced

Truck drivers know better than anyone how critical it is to keep their brakes in good shape, as they are one of the most important components of the vehicle. The brakes are crucial for controlling the speed of the truck, protecting the cargo, and avoiding accidents or collisions, keeping the driver and other drivers on the road safe. 

No matter how careful or proactive an operator you are, in all likelihood, there will be a point where the brakes on one or more wheels on your truck will deplete their effectiveness and will need to be replaced. The failure may be gradual, as the brake pad naturally wears, or it could come all at once, drastically altering your stopping ability.

We’re going to take a look at some of the most common indications that your heavy-duty truck brakes need to be replaced, and how they may affect the operation of your truck. In the end, we’ll look at a trusted local resource for all of your heavy-duty truck service needs.


perform regular tire maintenance on your truck tires5 Signs That Brake Replacement is Needed for Your Truck

While the only way to positively tell if the brake pads on your truck need to be replaced is to manually inspect and measure them, you may notice some other signs as the pads wear or if they’re damaged. Here are some of the most common indications that your truck brakes either have failed or are beginning to fail.

1. Noise During Braking

One of the most obvious signs that your track brakes need to be replaced is that they are making strange noises. You may hear a grinding, squealing, or screeching sound when you apply the brakes. A squealing or screeching noise will often indicate that the pads are approaching the end of their lives, while a grinding noise will often be heard when the pads are quite nearly, or even entirely, used up. 

The noise is the result of the nearly-empty brake pads now scraping or grinding on the surface of the rotor. When you start hearing these noises, it means that your brake pads are worn out and need to be replaced. If you ignore these sounds, you may end up damaging your rotors, which can be an expensive fix for a heavy-duty truck.

2. Vibration When Brakes are Applied

Another major indicator that your brakes need work is that they create vibration when you try to use them. If you apply the brake and feel a vibration from any part of your heavy-duty truck, it can be a significant indicator of possible brake damage or failure. 

There are a few different potential causes for this. The first is the possibility that the rotors are warped, which can happen by allowing the calipers to try to stop the rotors with little to no pads on them, causing heat to build up and warp the rotor. The other cause is that the pads are completely worn and the caliper is just squeezing metal to metal, making damage and deformation much more likely.

If you push the brake pedal and feel a vibration of any kind, it’s time to have a professional look at those brakes to make sure you and your load stay safe on the road.

3. The Brakes Feel Soft or Spongy

If your brake pedal feels soft or spongy, this can be another sign that your brakes need to be replaced, or that you need your braking system looked at. This can happen both when there is air in the brake lines and when your brake pads are worn out, though it is more commonly experienced when there is air in the line, or insufficient brake fluid.

If your brake pedal feels soft or offers little resistance when pressed, there is an inability to build up the required hydraulic pressure needed to operate the brakes. This can result in a complete inability to stop the truck. If this is the case, you should have your brakes checked immediately to avoid a potential loss of control that leads to collisions.

4. Your Truck Pulls to One Side When You Apply the Brakes

Another sign that your truck may need its brakes looked at is that pressing the brake pedal causes the truck to pull to one side or another. This is commonly seen when one brake pad has worn faster than another, or where the brake pad on one side has been damaged. The result is that one side of the brakes will be much more effective at slowing your speed, leading to the truck pulling to the side.

The side that the truck pulls to will be the side that has the better-functioning brake pad. For example, if you press the brake and your truck starts to pull to the left, it means one or more pads on the right side need to be serviced or replaced. No matter what side your truck is pulling to, it’s essential to have the brake system repaired before the problem worsens.

5. Overall Reduced Braking Effectiveness

If you begin to notice that your truck’s stopping distance is becoming longer and longer, and you’re having to compensate for a slower reduction in speed, your brakes are certainly in need of service. This can be due to several factors, but each one will lead to the same result: stopping your truck becomes harder and takes longer. 

One common reason for reduced braking ability is simply worn or old brake pads. Brake pads that are approaching the end of their lives, or perhaps have already surpassed their useful life, will be far less effective at stopping the truck than they should be. 

Another common reason that brake pads become less effective is that they can be damaged by hard use. Truck drivers that operate in areas with significant elevation changes know better than most that brakes can be damaged by unskilled drivers or in emergencies.

Brake fade is a common term for brake pads that have been overheated by a significant amount or for a substantial period. This causes many pads to develop a smooth, hard coating similar to ceramic as a result of the heat. This coating can render brake pads nearly useless. 

Often the pads will heat up enough to burn off some of the dirt and other contaminants on them, which will produce a burning smell in the cab. This smell is usually enough warning for the driver to ease off the brake, but sometimes it’s too late and the damage is done and the pads or other brake system components have been damaged. 


Where to Turn When Your Heavy-Duty Truck Brakes Need to Be Serviced

Your heavy-duty truck brakes are essential for your safety on the road. It’s important to check them regularly and replace them as needed to ensure that they are functioning properly. 

If you’ve been putting off a scheduled brake job for a while, or if you’ve just started to experience one or more of the signs mentioned here, then it’s time to work with a trusted professional who can get your brakes fixed and get you back on the road. 

At Blaine Brothers, we’re ready to be your trusted service partner for all of your heavy-duty truck maintenance, service, and repair needs in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Reach out today, and let us help keep your truck rolling!

Blaine, MN


10011 Xylite Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55449

Cloquet, MN


1325 Hwy 45
Cloquet, MN 55720

Clearwater, MN


750 Heaton BLVD
Clearwater, MN 55320

Baldwin, WI


2500 Alreich Ave
Baldwin, WI 54002



9515 150th Avenue NE
Columbus, MN 55025