Brakes

Your car has to stop.
Every time.

As much as you want to go, stopping saves your life.

Brakes are one of the most crucial systems in your vehicle. They get used without thought all day every day and in an emergency you’d better believe it’s the one thing that’s gonna save your life.

Lucky for you, maintaining your brakes isn’t that difficult. As long as you have them checked somewhat regularly you’ll never need to feel that horrible churn in the pit of your stomach when you hit your brakes, the pedal sinks all the way to the floor and your vehicle doesn’t slow a bit.

Sometimes the person whispers “Oh, no,” sometimes they scream profanities, but regardless of what they say, the failure of the brakes likely could have been avoided by regular brake maintenance.

What does that entail? Honestly not much. Brake inspections are one of the things we offer free of charge here at the finest auto repair shop in Portland. The other is check engine light inspection, but since this is the brake repair page, let’s focus on those brakes.

When do you need to fix your brakes?

Ideally when the brake pads are worn down to less than a quarter of an inch. Replacing them too early means you’re wasting money. Replacing them too late means you’re rollin’ dice with the devil.

Okay, enough with the scare tactics. In truth, you’ll likely know when it’s time to replace your brake pads. Modern vehicles have built-in indicators that will screech and squeal to let you know it’s high time to get those pads replaced. You’ll still be able to fully stop, it’ll just be pretty noisy. When you start hearing the sound when you apply your brakes, it’s time to come in and talk to the Gearheads about getting your brakes repaired.

If you hit the brakes and the sound is less of a screech and more of a grinding, metal-on-metal sound, you really have to call us right away. This sound means your brake pads are fully gone and your calipers are grinding directly on the rotors. Irreparable damage is not far away, along with the cost to replace your rotors, or at least the cost of having your rotors resurfaced and likely your calipers replaced. Plus with the brake pads gone the stopping ability of your vehicle will be greatly diminished.

Meaning you might get to the point where you’re saying either “Oh, no” or screaming profanities because your car isn’t going to stop in time.

Do I have to replace my rotors?

If your rotors have been damaged, replacement may be one of the two options available to you. Depending on the severity of the damage, the other option would be to have your rotors resurfaced. This involves removing a very thin layer of metal from the surface of your rotor in order to make it flat and smooth again.

If your rotors are too thin or too damaged, this option may not be available to you. While it is generally cheaper to turn or resurface your rotors than replace them, which option is available will depend entirely on the condition of your rotors. Also, in some rare cases, replacement may actually be cheaper, but it’s unlikely.

Do you offer brake flush services?

Of course! The advantage to having us do it over trying to do it yourself – no muss, no fuss for you. How often you need to flush the fluid in your brake system will depend on the recommendations from your vehicle manufacturer, but a good rule of thumb is to check the brake fluid every time you change the oil in your vehicle.

How do I know if I need to flush my brake fluid?

It depends again on the vehicle manufacturer. Some companies recommend every 2 years or 20,000 miles. Some say every 3 years regardless of mileage. Others have no recommendation.

Usually if you check your brake fluid and it is clear or amber-colored, it is likely to be fine and you aren’t in need of a brake flush. If it is dark or rust-colored, you likely need to flush it out. When you check your brake fluid, fill it up if it is below the maximum level indicated. Then keep an eye on it – if you’re losing a lot of fluid, that could indicate a problem, regardless of the color of the fluid.

Long story short – you may need your brake fluid flushed. If you have doubts or are concerned about it, swing by and we’ll take a quick look. If it looks fine, you’ll be on your way with a handshake. If you need to have a brake flush performed, we’ll let you know your options at that point.

What about my brake lines?

Like any part of a vehicle, brake lines can wear down over time. Salt on the roads from our lovely Portland winters, humidity, grime – they all combine to slowly break down the components on your vehicle, including your brake system.

That being said, brake lines aren’t regularly required to be replaced on modern vehicles. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be inspected. And it doesn’t mean you should ignore murky-colored brake fluid when you check it. Just understand that it’s a possibility and keep your eye on things.

And of course, if you’d like your friendly neighborhood Portland mechanic’s shop to take a look at it – swing on by and we’ll see what we can do.

Recap

Brakes are one of the more important systems in your car. Some might say the most important – while everything else is designed to make you go, brakes are the only system designed to make you stop.

The point is – you need to pay attention to the brakes as much as you do everything else, if not maybe a little more. Give us a call to schedule a free brake inspection or just swing by the shop. We’ll try to fit you in as soon as possible.


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