Brake maintenance is an important part of auto care, not only to keep your vehicle safe, but to make sure you stay in compliance with the law. Many states require regular brake inspections in order to maintain car registration and insurance.
Brakes are made up of a variety of components and materials that wear down over time as they’re used. When it’s time to replace your brakes, there are several things you should know about this process and how much it may cost. Brake service costs vary depending on the type of repair work you need and your location, but generally average between $100 and $300 for a standard brake job on most vehicles.
Replacing brake pads is a simple and affordable project, which can save you hundreds of dollars in mechanic bills. To replace your own brake pads, you’ll need to determine if your car needs them. A good rule of thumb is to check the wear on your brake pads every six months. If the material has been worn away by more than one-quarter of an inch, it’s time for a replacement. When checking your brakes, look for the wear indicator (a small metal tab that makes noise when your brake pads are too thin), or remove the wheel and inspect by looking through the spokes at the working surface of the rotors.
In addition to the basic wear and tear you’ll experience, the frequency with which you’ll need to change your drivetrain depends on the type of riding you do. Road cyclists who ride in dry conditions typically don’t need to replace their chain or cassette as often as mountain bikers who ride in wet or muddy conditions. If you’re a road cyclist, expect your drivetrain parts to last 1,000 miles if your bike is well-maintained and you’re a regular rider; if you’re a mountain biker, plan for 200-500 miles per chainring set.
It’s easy to tell when it’s time for new components. You might notice your chain makes squeaky noises or skips when shifting gears; this is a sure sign that it’s time for new cassette and chainring sets.
Tyres. When it comes to tyres, the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around its entire circumference. You can measure this yourself with a 20p coin – if you cannot see the outer band on a 20p when you put it in, your tread depth is above 3mm and your tyres are probably still safe to use.
However, many experts recommend that you replace your tyres every three years or so regardless of their condition, simply because they will have degraded over time through exposure to heat, cold and sunlight. This advice is also applicable to high-performance tyres which are particularly susceptible to deterioration.
Finally, replacing one tyre at a time can cause problems with steering and braking as car manufacturers assume that all four tyres will have similar levels of grip when designing their vehicles – therefore it’s best only to replace one tyre if there’s an emergency such as a puncture.
It’s important to check your brake fluid regularly. Your vehicle’s brakes will probably last between 50,000 and 70,000 miles (80,000 km and 113,000 km) without replacement as long as you take good care of them. Even if your brakes are in good shape, however, you should still change your brake fluid every two or three years because it absorbs water from the air over time. When the moisture content reaches a certain point, the brakes may start to corrode from the inside out. This can cause serious damage that will cost more to repair than simply replacing the fluid on a regular basis would have cost.
If your pads are worn down, and you’re just going to replace them, you need to inspect your rotors. You’ll want to replace them at the same time as your pads. They may not be in bad shape, but if they are warped or discolored, it’s best to get them replaced, too. Here’s what you should look out for:
- Uneven wear
- Heat spots
If any of these issues are present, replacement is recommended. However, rotors can sometimes be resurfaced by a brake shop if they aren’t too thin already. If this is an option for you and your budget allows it, resurfacing can save some money and prevent unneeded material from getting dumped into landfills.
Wheels, tyres and bearings.
Wheel bearings are an integral part of your vehicle’s wheel assembly. They help the wheel rotate smoothly as it rolls down the road. Wheel bearings are usually sealed and require no maintenance, but they can wear out or become damaged by water and dirt. In this case, they would need to be replaced. Thankfully, it is not necessary to replace your wheel bearings every time you replace your tyres or brakes, but you should have them inspected if you suspect there may be an issue with them.
Replace your brakes every 3 to 7 years, depending on the type of vehicle you have and how often you drive it.
Replacing your brake pads and rotors is one way to ensure safe braking. But how often should you replace your brakes? There’s no single answer to this question. There are a number of variables that determine your brake replacement schedule, including:
- Whether you drive a car or truck
- The age of the vehicle
- How much driving you do
- How you drive (aggressive, hard braking)
- Vehicle maintenance (keep your car well-maintained for extended life)