Listen for grinding noises, but by then it's going to be more expensive. Most cars have "squeakers" that make a high-pitched squeal while you're driving to let you know the front linings are almost worn out. Sometimes they squeak when you apply the brakes, sometimes they STOP squeaking when you apply the brakes. They are real easy to hear with the window open when you drive next to a building. The best way to tell is with a brake inspection. You can get a clue too by checking the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir. If it is low, the front disc brakes are worn. Do not add any fluid. The level will come up a lot when new front pads are installed. That's why conscientious mechanics never top off brake fluid during routine service such as an oil change. Be careful too when you check the fluid that absolutely no oil from your fingers gets in the brake fluid. Front brakes typically wear out twice as fast as the rear brakes, but some rear disc brake pads have been known to have the linings rust off. Usually that isn't serious but it can cause a low brake pedal or a rattling sound. If you do a lot of city driving the brakes should be checked probably once every year or two when it's in for other service. If you do mostly highway driving, like me, you might get 50,000 to 70,000 miles on a set of front brakes.
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Monday, March 14th, 2011 AT 7:19 PM