Periodically checking your brakes is a vital part of routine maintenance.
At a minimum this should be done at least once a year – plan a brake check at the same time you get your tires rotated.
It's best to get them checked as you rotate your tires during every oil change. At the very least, you should get them looked at before going on a long trip.
Signs of brake problems
It is important to be alert to signs that you might be having problems with your brakes.
Clues that something’s wrong with your brakes include:
- Your brake warning light comes on (including the ABS warning light)
- Unusual noise when you apply the brakes – especially grinding or squealing noises
- Your car’s response when you hit the brakes – such as if your car pulls in one direction or another, or shakes
- The feel of the brake pedal – such as if the brake pedal is too soft (goes to the floor when you press the pedal) or hard (hardly moves when you press the pedal)
A thorough brake inspection should include brake pad/lining wear, your brake fluid level, rotor thickness, condition of hoses and brake lines, as well as your brake lights and dashboard warning lights.
The brake pads are what assist your car in stopping the wheels from moving, along with the rotor. Brake pads wear down with time from continuous wear from creating the friction necessary to stop a vehicle. Replacing brake pads are a normal part of car maintenance.
If you are able to see your brake pads without removing wheels or other parts, it makes an easy way to check your own brakes. In other instances, your wheel may need to be removed to check the brake pads.
Here are some clues to tell you that your brake pads may need replaced:
- If the brake pads have 1/8” or less of padding, it’s time to replace them.
- The rotor disc should be shiny and may have some lines, but if you see grooves and rough spots you may need to have the rotor replaced.
- Check for brake dust, which can be on your front tires and around on your car. If the brake dust suddenly disappears, it could be a sign that you need to replace them immediately and they are completely worn.
- If you hear a metallic screeching noise when you brake, it could be a key indicator that you need a brake pad replacement.
- If you feel your car shake, grind or pull to one side when you hit the brakes, it could be a sign that they need to be checked out.
Check brake fluid
Brake fluid is a clear type of hydraulic fluid used in your car’s brake system. Brake fluid is able to absorb heat and disperse it throughout the brake system. Brake fluid can also absorb water, which can cause damage to other parts of the brake system, so it’s important to change the brake fluid when it starts to become a dark color. You can check your brake fluid under the hood of your car.
Check your owner’s manual for the type of brake fluid needed for your vehicle.
When it comes to replacing brakes, there are some people who can determine which brakes and what kind need replaced on their vehicle. For the rest of us, a mechanic is the best solution when it comes to replacing brakes.
Here are some tips to get the best deal when buying new brakes:
- Take your car to a local mechanic to determine if your brakes need replaced. The mechanic can help determine if it’s your brake pads, brake discs or both. It's commonplace to have your brakes replaced every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.
- Get one or more quotes before you decide to have the work done on your car. You may find that another reputable mechanic can do the job for a more affordable price.
- Make sure that you ask questions and can even ask to see the parts that need replaced to see if they are worn.
- Make sure the mechanics guarantee their work.
- Schedule your appointment to have work done at a convenient time, and if it’s going to take a while, make arrangements for transportation.
- After your brakes are replaced, it’s time to pay the mechanic. Many places offer payment arrangements, so ask before you commit to a price.
For the best brake repair service in the San Jose, Fremont and Milpitas come on in to a Quality Tune Up Center near you!
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