Kind soul seeks answers

Do you have to hear sqeaking or grinding for there to be a problem with your breaks or break pads?

They don’t always make a loud noise when they are worn down.

No. Brake pads or shoes can be worn out, or nearly worn out, and not make any unusual noises at all.

The pads or shoes can be measured to see how much life is left. If they are at or near minimum thickness they should be replaced.

Brakes — not breaks.

No .
By the time you hear sqeaking or grinding you’ve waited too long.
Brake pads and shoes are measured by thickness.
Shops have a set of quick guages to tell by sight.

Other quiet problems can be ;
pulling to one side,
grabbing too quickly,
not grabbing enough,
fading pedal,
pulsating pedal ( warped rotors ),

You don’t have to hear anything. Could have a pulsation, soft pedal, pulls just to name a few non-audible BRAKE problems.

What have you been told & by whom that makes you ask ?
Perhaps you were told that you need brakes yet you HEAR nothing, so therefore you’re sceptical of the need ?

Tell us more and we can help you make an informed decision about your brakes.

Noise does not always indicate a problem, and many problems don’t make any noise.

No. There are other things that could be going wrong without any noise at all. You could have a low brake fluid level due to a leaking master cylinder or brake cylinder or caliper. You could have adequate fluid levels but air in the brake lines due to a faulty master cylinder or brake cylinder or caliper. Either should trigger your brake light as you lose hydraulic pressure. If the brake light is on, you cannot safely drive the car, and if the pads are reasonably new, I’d expect that the brake fluid is low and find the leak.
As to squeaking versus grinding brakes:
You can and should ask for brake pads that will squeak when they are worn and need replacing. These pads just have an aluminum strip that will squeak on your steel rotors when it’s time to replace the pads. If you replace the pads before they completely wear out, you will save the cost of replacing the rotor and perhaps calipers. It’s a difference of more than a thousand dollars if you need to have the work done.
Grinding brakes are just metal on metal, and when you hear that you need new pads, rotors and calipers.

Very good feedback. Thank you all.