Let’s talk about some of the main brake parts on your vehicle and what usually needs to be serviced as you rack up the miles.
Most brakes are disc brakes these days, so let’s start with those. The main parts are the caliper, the brake pads and the rotor. When you press on the brake pedal, the fluid inside of the brake line forces the caliper to squeeze the brake pads against the rotor. The rotor is attached to the wheel and the brake pads squeezing against the rotor causes the vehicle to slow down when you hit the brakes.
Of course the brake pads wear down every time you apply the brakes and eventually need to be replaced. As you can imagine, there are a lot of choices when it comes to replacement pads. All of them will fit the same vehicle, but there is a big difference in price and quality in all of them. For most people, your best bet is to install ones that match the quality level and materials used on your original brakes.
Here are some reasons why you might need to replace rotors on your vehicle during a brake job. Remember that the brake pads squeeze against the rotors to slow the vehicle down. Over time, the friction of the brake pads removes metal on the rotors and they get thinner and thinner. When they are too thin, they won’t dissipate heat like they are supposed to do and you need to replace them.
Sometimes the rotors need to be replaced because they are either damaged by corrosion or they were damaged because the brake pads completely wore out and deeply gouged the rotors before the owner got the vehicle into the shop. Many times you can avoid the extra costs associated with new rotors if you come into the shop when you first start hearing a squeaking noise coming from your brakes.
Rubber brake hoses need to be inspected as well. They wear out over time and can even burst if they get really bad. That will cause your brake pedal to go to the floor, which will cause your heart rate to go through the roof!
Some vehicles have drum brakes in the rear. When you apply the brakes, the rear brake shoes move outward, pressing on the inside of the drum. It’s important to have these types of brakes inspected on a regular basis because they have some self adjusting parts and emergency brake cables that can become corroded or out of adjustment.
Even though it might cost a little bit to get those brake inspected, your mechanic can usually end up saving you money by getting brake pads replaced before they do cause additional damage to your rotors or other parts. If you wait too long, your repair costs might "brake” your bank.