It’s hard to pin down the proper interval between brake service. But there are some basic tests:
- Don’t take chances with brake performance. You should never wait to get a brake check if you think something isn’t right with your brake system.
- Understand that you can’t easily have a look yourself, because inspecting brakes means putting the vehicle on a lift, removing the wheel, and sometimes taking apart the components.
- You can’t plan on needing brake service on a set schedule, say every 20,000 or 50,000 miles. Brakes can wear out after 18,000 or 60,000. It depends on individual driving habits and road conditions.
Driving habits – Are you regularly hauling a trailer or heavy loads? Are you someone who has a heavy foot or someone who brings the car to a smooth stop? Do you tend to tap the brake a lot while drive? All these questions can give you a better picture on how long and efficient your break pads will be. Certain behaviors could have a positive or negative effect on the longevity of your breaks.
Where you drive – If you’re in stop and go traffic during your daily commute five days a week, or regularly driving mountain roads during the weekend or for your job, your brakes will wear more quickly. Off-road travel also puts high demands on brakes in addition to welcoming more unwanted wear and tear on parts since dirt and grime can degrade brake parts. All of these are factors to consider when you are trying to estimate or plan for having your breaks serviced.
The quality of parts previously installed – Just like any product, brake parts vary in durability and price. And even premium parts won’t last if they’ve been installed wrong. It is important to not only do your research on the parts that are being installed, but also asking the hard questions to make sure that you can trust your mechanic to install the part correctly. Without both parts of the equation, your part will not be as efficient as it could be.
Recommendations and costs for brake service can be all over the map. We recommend to ask the following questions to the mechanic that you are thinking of having provide a service. Don’t be afraid to inquire a couple mechanics before finding one you feel comfortable with. For example:
- What’s included? Some shops advertise a low price to just replace brake pads, but if any other problems are discovered the cost goes way up. A good standard brake service should include flushing old brake fluid, adding new, resurfacing rotors, and adjusting braking mechanisms. This is a well rounded brake service.
- What is the turn-around time? Convenience is the big key when it comes to finding a mechanic for you. It is important that you find a mechanic that works with your schedule.
- What is their quality of parts? If your mechanic buys from an auto parts wholesaler, quality control for parts is in the hands of those who aren’t working on your car. These suppliers may buy from one manufacturer with a special on price today, and another tomorrow. They are looking for a good deal, just as much as you are. Ask what kind of quality control measures the shop has for parts before they install them onto vehicles. You don’t want to skimp on brake components. It is important to be as informed as possible for what is being installed on your vehicle.
- What is their approach to replacing parts? There are big differences in how brake service and repairs are done. It’s pretty common at most brake repair shops to pull the calipers off, replace the brake pads, and reinstall the unit.But there are many parts of the brake system that work just as hard as the brake pads that may need attention. Built-up grit on pistons can result in brake pads not disengaging when you take your foot off the brake pedal — then your brake pads are going to wear faster, or unevenly.Heat from the action of the piston can break down the rubber seals, creating a leak in the braking system. And that could result in the brakes fading — or not working at all — when you hit the brakes.
The problem is that it’s not easy to inspect all of these parts — like boots, seals, bushings — without full disassembly. Taking everything apart is time-consuming. It also increases the number of things that can go wrong. Shoddy reassembly is a common reason cars have to come back to the shop following a brake job.
Most of all, it is important for you to trust your mechanic. If you don’t trust your mechanic, you will never feel confident behind the wheel. It is important to build a relationship with your mechanic since they are taking care of the vehicle that gets you and your family from point A to point B.