Angie's List: Holiday Brake Check

If your holiday plans includes plenty of stops at the homes of friends and relatives, better make sure your vehicle can stop. Angie Hicks of Angie’s List says that you should check your brakes often, "Brakes are one of the most important functionality of the car and we don't want to ignore them because it can be a very big issue. If you start hearing noises with your brakes have it checked out right away. It's not a repair you want to put off. In fact, you should probably have your brakes checked once every six months just as a precaution"

Squealing, grinding and vibrations are usually tell-tale signs that something with your brakes is amiss. Mechanic Fred Kuhn explains "If you hear a noise you haven't normally heard I would get it looked at. If nothing else you usually can drive by and say 'hey, is this something I can wait on, or should I make an appointment to get it looked at?"
It's a good idea to have someone in mind long before you hear those sounds of trouble.

"When looking for a mechanic you want find someone who has expertise with the type of car you have so they have the right equipment to run the diagnostics necessary. Find that mechanic preferably before you have a big issue like your brakes. Use them for oil changes, that way you know you have a rapport and they know your car", warns Hicks.

Regardless of the vehicle, brakes generally need to be replaced every 20,000-30,000 miles.

Don't wait until noises develop or become significantly louder to address brake system maintenance.

The various components of a braking system can quickly add up. "Brake pads from different companies start off anywhere from $100 up to $200, $300 - it depends on the make and model of the car. The newer cars are more expensive than the older cars and the pads are a different material. That's why they are more expensive … Brake rotors, again there is a large discrepancy between the two. They go anywhere from $50 a rotor up to $200, $300. On most cars you're looking at about $65 a rotor", says Kuhn.

So, you can save yourself some serious money, and you and your family from serious trouble, by getting those semi-annual brake inspections, and by keeping your ears on alert when behind the wheel.

After all, everyone's looking for a "brake" from car trouble.

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