Brake Replacement – Or Repair?
If you’ve got a health problem that’s troubling you – let’s say your blood pressure is consistently too high, your knee hurts like crazy or you’re having dizzy spells – chances are you’ll go see a doctor for it, right? Maybe it’s not much of anything, or maybe it’s something serious, but there’s one thing for certain – it isn’t just going to get better on its own, and it will most likely just get worse if you put it off.
It’d be great if we had the same sort of diligence about keeping our vehicles maintained, but too often we just don’t. We tend to slam the hood and forget about it, and take things for granted for far too long, far too often.
Brakes wear very slowly. The friction material on your brake pads can easily last 40-60,000 miles, with the right driving habits. Because they wear down so slowly, it’s easy to not notice signs of wear as they slowly develop:
· Car pulls noticeably to one side while braking
· Pulsating sensation through brake pedal
· One or more wheels tends to lock up and skid
· Longer stopping distances
· Excessive brake pedal travel before brakes engage
· Brake pedal slowly goes to the floor while holding the vehicle stopped and in gear
· Screeching, squealing or grinding noises
This is where we come to the “repair or replace” dilemma of the title. Disc brakes are comprised of smooth steel rotors, to which your wheels are bolted. A caliper encloses the rotor, and when you step on the brakes, two brake pads grip the rotor and slow the car down in much the same fashion as handbrakes on a bicycle.
If you address brake problems early, it’s not a big deal…not much more than just replacing the brake pads. But if you let them go too long, the friction material of the pads will wear all the way down to the pads’ backing plates. If you hear a metal-to-metal grinding noise while braking, that means that all the braking effect you have is coming from the metal backing plates and rivets digging into the smooth steel surface of the brake rotors. At that point, your simple brake job has just about doubled in price; the rotors will be ruined and in need of replacement along with the pads.
Not only is this more costly, it’s also extremely dangerous…as you’ve probably realized by now, due to the difficulty of trying to bring your vehicle to a stop.
Because brake wear is so gradual, it’s important to keep tabs on it. Don’t let your brakes go more than six months without an inspection of the rotors, the pads and the entire brake system.
At Auto Express of Sacramento, CA, brake repair is a big part of what we do. Our ASE-certified technicians are trained and experienced with all sorts of brake repair for just about any car, minivan, light truck, SUV or crossover on the road. Make an appointment with us today for a brake inspection and service on your vehicle. Whatever you do, though, don’t let your brakes go too long!