While the purpose of some parts of a vehicle may be mystery to everyone except the auto mechanic, the role of a car’s brakes are clear.
What’s even clearer is the importance of ensuring that your brakes work well to minimize stopping distance and give you confidence.
Proper brake maintenance is about far more than avoiding a squeaky annoyance at every stop sign. It could save your life.
Why does my car need brake service?
Over time, your brake fluid takes in air, water, and dirt from the road. This lessens the effectiveness of your brakes, which, in turn, increases stopping distance.
And the longer your stopping distance, the less control you retain as a driver. That creates a risk for you, your passengers, and other drivers elsewhere on the road.
If you neglect to replace the brake fluid at manufacturer recommend intervals, you risk corroding other aspects of your brake system.
This has further negative impact on your brakes’ performance, and it also illustrates how scheduled maintenance can save money. Simply replacing your brake fluid now spares replacement of far more expensive parts later.
In addition to replacing brake fluid, your brake pads also become thinner as you log miles on your car. Friction created by normal usage wears down brake pads. Worn brake pads, like dirty brake fluid, increase necessary braking distance and create risks for all road travelers.
How do I know when I need brake repair?
When it comes to brake pads, 3 mm is the minimum thickness. Anything below that, and it’s time for a change.
If driving under normal conditions, you can expect to change your brake pads every 50,000–55,000 km. City driving, with its constant stops and starts, tends to wear brake pads more quickly than other types of driving.
If you’re not sure about the thickness of your brake pads, have them measured next time you stop in for service.
Checking every 12–15 months (or every 20,000 km) ensures safety year after year. Your owner’s manual will have manufacturer guidelines for your specific make and model.
Common symptoms that may indicate the need for brake pad replacement include:
– Unusual noises from your brakes, such as grinding or screeching when braking
– Slow-to-respond brake pedal that makes it harder to come to a stop
– Brake pedal that seems lower than normal
– Low-pad warning light illumination
– Steering wheel vibration when driving or braking
– Car pulling to the right or left when braking
Recommendations for brake fluid replacement can also be found in your owner’s manual. Note that there can be wide variations in the frequency of brake fluid replacement, from every two years to just once every decade.
What takes place during brake maintenance?
For brake pad replacement, remember that brake pads must be replaced in pairs for your front or rear wheels. This ensures even braking and wear. During brake pad replacement, the mechanic will also inspect the other aspects of your brakes: rotors, calipers, hoses, and brake fluid. Brake fluid may require replacement based on contamination of the fluid or its level.
How much will it cost?
As we noted earlier, spending a small amount of money on scheduled maintenance usually saves you from a far more expensive trip to the repair shop down the road. With brake service in particular, neglecting scheduled maintenance can damage brake rotors—a significantly more expensive service item than brake pads.
So, before you think about skipping scheduled maintenance on one of your car’s most critical components, get in touch with the service experts at Alpine Toyota to discover if it’s time for brake service. We can promise honest expertise that will help you make the right decision, keep you safe on the road, and save you from more expensive, unexpected repairs.