Understanding Automotive Brake Parts and Services

How Brake Inspections Help You Make Better Maintenance Decisions

Do you normally take a casual approach to your vehicle's maintenance? Deferring maintenance might seem like a great way to save some money, but it's ultimately a self-defeating approach. Your vehicle's manufacturer-recommended maintenance intervals help keep your car running efficiently and minimize the likelihood of unexpected and costly repairs.

However, not all maintenance procedures have hard and fast rules. For example, the wear on your brakes will vary based on your driving habits and conditions. Following strict mileage intervals for replacement can potentially mean wasting money or even allowing your brakes to become dangerously worn down. Fortunately, there's a better, safer, and easier approach.

Judging the Condition of Your Brakes

With any vehicle, there are a few ways to tell that something may be amiss with the braking system. In the simplest cases, you can rely on the wear indicator on your brake pads. This metal strip will touch the rotors when the pad friction material wears down enough, creating a squealing noise that's easy to hear from the cabin.

Wear indicators are the oldest and arguably most reliable way to tell that your brakes require replacement, but they're not foolproof. For example, the wear indicator can break off. Your car may also only have wear indicators on one wheel per axle, so uneven wear between sides due to a sticking caliper can mean you won't hear your brakes squealing as they wear down.

Newer cars also typically have wear sensors. These sacrificial devices will break when they hit the rotor, opening the circuit and triggering a warning light on your dash. While generally reliable, these sensors can suffer from the same issues as wear indicators. Additionally, neither sensors nor indicators can tell you exactly how much material remains on your brake pads.

Using Inspections to Make Better Decisions

If you want to catch brake problems early and judge the remaining lifespan of your existing brakes, brake inspections are the way to go. A brake inspection relies on objective data instead of waiting for warning signs to appear. During an inspection, a technician will measure the thickness of both your brake pads and rotors.

Since there are minimum thickness requirements for pads and rotors, a technician can tell you if you'll need to service your brakes soon and, if not, approximately how long until you will. Additionally, part of an inspection involves checking your brake hoses, fluid, and other critical braking system components. These checks are often the best way to spot issues before they become safety hazards.

Just as routine physicals can help you stay on top of your health better than waiting for symptoms to show up, routine brake inspections can help ensure the health of your car's braking system. Scheduling inspections or having them performed during other maintenance (such as oil changes) will guarantee that unexpected braking problems don't blindside you. 

For more information, contact a local company like Escondido Auto Tech.