Brake repair or replacement is a common service item on most cars and trucks, but knowing when to get your brakes serviced is not always clear. There are some things that can help you determine when your brakes are worn and need repair and some things you can do to monitor their condition.
When the brakes on your car or truck start to wear, there are some everyday things that can occur as a result. The brakes will often begin to make squealing noises as you use them, and the pads can become glazed over, especially on vehicles that spend a lot of time in traffic.
The result can be some brake fade or loss of performance that indicates the brakes need to be checked. Any automotive shop that offers brake repair work can inspect them for you to determine if they need to be replaced.
You may see a lot of brake dust on the outside of the wheels if the brakes are wearing quickly, and in some situations, a grinding noise may occur if the pads wear enough for the wear indicator tab to contact the brake rotor. In all these situations, a quick inspection of the brake system will yield the answer you need and determine if you need brake replacement or repair.
You do not have to wait for your brakes to start making noise or acting up to have them checked. Adding a brake inspection to your regular service routine will allow you to monitor the brakes and hopefully catch the wear before it gets bad enough to affect the performance or stopping distance of the car.
When the technician takes your car in for an oil change and tire rotation, ask them to check the brakes for wear that may require brake repair. If you do this with each oil change, you can typically catch brake wear before it gets so bad that it causes damage to the rotors or drums in the system.
Most repair shops are happy to inspect the brakes for you, but they often won't do it unless you ask. You can have the inspection done when they are rating the tires; since they are already removing the tires from the vehicle, they will be able to get a good look at the brake pads, rotors, shoes, and drums.
This is also an excellent time to check for any leaks on the calipers and slave cylinders, the lines leading to the wheels, and the master cylinder under the car's hood. If the tech finds a problem that requires brake repair, they can fix it while the vehicle is on the lift, saving you time and money by avoiding damage later.