Well, noises and vibrations are a good indicator that something is going on. Sometimes noises are as simple as disassembling the components, cleaning and greasing. Other times it is more compilacated and parts need to be replaced. If you hear grinding, that is bad. Get it to an automotive technician as soon as you can. Grinding brakes usually indicate that you have worn through the entire friction material on the pad, and the metal backing of the pad is scrapping against the metal rotor…hence the term “metal to metal.” in most cases, waiting until the brakes are metal to metal will just end up costing you more money to repair, and will leave open the possibilty of other components failing in the hydraulic part of the system.
It is good practice to have your brakes checked every other oil change if you use conventional oil, or every oil change if you use synthetic oil. A lot of wear can take place every 5,000 to 6,000 miles of driving. Around town/ city driving with a lot of stop and go will ususally wear your brakes out faster than a lot of highway driving for obvious reasons. Your technician should be able to give you a “runout” status which is usually converted into a percentage of pad surface left before you should replace your brakes. When you are in the 20% or less range, you want to change the brakes. Most people think it is ok to keep driving, but when pads get low they can not dissipate (get rid of) heat the same way, and can start to crack and can even boil the compound adhesive that holds the pad to the metal backing. The friction material can completely separate from the backing and fall out between the caliper and rotor. The long and the short of it is braking is kind of important, so keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe and check those brakes regularly. Your automotive technician should be able to bring you out and show you your pad percentage, or take pictures for you so you can see what they are seeing. As always, at Paul’s Auto Repair we can and will do both of these things for you. Drive safe!