Regular brake inspections are an integral part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance program and can help keep your driving safe and free of drama. At Cheers Automotive we never charge to inspect your brakes because safety is our number one concern.
Brakes are a wear item in that the pads or shoes are designed to wear down with use. One of the questions we get asked frequently is “How long should my brake pads last?” That’s a tough question because everybody drives differently. A person who drives only on the freeway to and from Moses Lake, for instance, will use their brakes much less per mile driven than a person who delivers pizza on the South Hill. The key is regular inspections and early intervention. As we service your vehicle here at Cheers we will be able to watch your brakes as they wear and can recommend replacement of the pads or shoes before the disks or drums are damaged and need to be replaced.
Many vehicles’ factory maintenance schedules call for the replacement of the brake fluid at specific mileage intervals. Often we find that the brake linings are due for replacement at about that time and we include the replacement of the brake fluid at no extra charge while we are there.
The two most common complaints we hear about brakes are squeaks and vibrations. Brakes can squeak for a couple of different reasons. Brake pads are built with little metal tabs that begin to rub on the disk surface as the pads wear down to alert the driver that their brakes are nearly worn down. While not a foolproof system (sometimes the “squeakers” don’t make noise at all, sometimes it’s not as loud as the stereo), it’s better than nothing. The other common cause of squeaking noise is dust, both from the brakes themselves and general environmental dust. This dust makes a noise just like the designed in squeakers and is annoying to say the least. Often we can just use a specially designed solvent and clean the dust off the brake surfaces and quiet things down. Sometimes squeaking is not an indication that the brakes are worn at all, but simply the result of using inexpensive brake pads when replacing the brakes. Modern brakes have high tech materials and are designed to tolerances measured in the thousandths of inches in order to perform properly. Inexpensive brake pads simply don’t have the materials or engineering behind them to work quietly and safely. Of course, a brake pad that is worn out will also make a grinding or squealing noise when its metal backing plate makes contact with the brake disk.
When your steering wheel shakes from side to side every time you step on the brake it’s a pretty fair bet that your brake disks are warped or heat damaged. As the disks wear down (at a much slower rate than the pads) they get thinner which makes them more susceptible to warping. Add a little heat from heavy braking and you have a recipe for shaking and shimmying. Sometimes the unevenness in the brake disk can be shaved off with a special lathe, but that only makes the disk thinner and more susceptible to warping. Usually a new set of disks is called for.
You can count on us at Cheers to take good care of your car and repair your brakes so they work properly. Your safety and driving satisfaction are our goals!