Steve’s Car Care Tip #10: Six Important Facts About Brake Care (that you should know!)

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Destroyed Brake Rotors

Good brake care is a necessary and very important aspect of car maintenance.  Steve Gerbig, owner of Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service in Osage Beach (in Missouri), answers some questions about brakes that many of us might have.  Read on for some “food for thought” on brake care…

  1. Question: What about lifetime brake pads… what info can you give on them?

Answer:  A lifetime warranty on parts is “appreciable” and a way to get you back to the same place to spend a lot more money the next time.  You are likely to be told that you will need other major components that may or may not be required.  You are probably going to have a sales pitch for rotors, calipers, brake hoses and other such things like flushing the brake system (kind of a gimmick).  So, keep in mind that while lifetime warranty pads are nice, be aware of what the situation may easily turn into.

  1. Question: Should vehicle owners beware of low-priced brake services?  Could this be a way to get customers in to their shops to sell other services?

Answer:  Yes, this does happen and a way that many mechanic shops operate.  This is a way that they might “cover” other cheap services like super low-priced oil changes.  Just beware of prices that are very low and other services you might be urged to acquire.

  1. Question: How can a vehicle owner stay “on top” of their brake care as far as not having their brakes get into such a bad shape i.e. like a warped rotor and very expensive repairs?

Answer:  Don’t take your vehicle to places that only supply limited services like a business that just does mainly car washes/oil changes or sells groceries/farm supplies/oil changes.  These businesses usually do not do a thorough check of your vehicle like a full-service mechanic shop would.  I do a complete check of every vehicle to see whether there is a brake problem or any other of numerous other problems.

  1. Question: So, should you go to your mechanic every six months or so for a checkup to see if there is a problem with your brake pads, etc.? 

Answer:  Not necessarily, let’s also keep YOUR busy schedule in mind here… What you should know is that if you should go to your “regular” full-service mechanic for your oil changes, (even if the franchise place is running a “$5 dollar cheaper special”) they should spot any problems for you before they become a disaster.   And, many times you could patronize a place that does tires and maybe brake service, but, for instance, you could REALLY need a timing belt, and they would not provide that service.  But, they will try to sell you other “gravy” services when what you BADLY NEED is a timing belt.

  1. Question: If you step on your brakes and they go to the floor – what does that mean has happened? 

Answer:  Generally, if that would happen, it is not when traveling down the road and stepping on them hard, but when you are going through the drive-thru, using a light-to-moderate pressure scenario.  And, every time you let off a little bit and let your car ease forward, the pedal gets a little mushier, sinks a little more…and, sinks a little more…

Question:  What does that mean?

Answer:  It means you have a leak in your master cylinder.  It’s an internal leak – you don’t see fluid on the ground.

  1. Question: What about brakes making noises…what info can you provide on that?

Answer:  To be safe, any brake noise should be investigated by a competent mechanic.  This may well not even take 5 minutes.   There can be a big difference between a squealing noise, & a deeper, “scraping/grinding” noise, & you may not be able to tell the difference. So, be sure to have any noise checked out immediately.

Gerbig’s Osage Auto Service does FREE brake inspections.  If you are at or near the Lake of the Ozarks, give Gerbig’s a call at (573) 302-4555.  Or, just stop in at 1030 Rowan (Normandy) Rd., Osage Beach, MO. Located just off Hwy 54, behind the U.S. Post Office.  Walk-ins are welcome. 

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Photo Credit (destroyed rotors):  Interiot