Brake inspections should be a routine part of your car's maintenance plan. However, you don't always need to schedule them as a separate service. In many cases, you can have a technician inspect your brakes while performing some other maintenance, such as tire rotations, oil changes, or in almost any situation where your car will be up on a lift.
Of course, this approach works best when you're only using your car under normal day-to-day driving conditions. There are certain situations where you may want to schedule a separate inspection, even if your brakes seem to be operating correctly. If any of these three scenarios apply to you, it's probably a good idea to schedule a brake check-up as soon as you can.
1. You're Taking a Long Road Trip
Road trips are part of the American experience, but they also require careful preparation. Even relatively short road trips often involve spending substantial time driving on unfamiliar roads. If you're taking a long road trip across multiple states, you may encounter varied terrain and even climate conditions. The US is large enough that it's easy to drive from a warm and sunny state right into a snowstorm.
Even if you're relatively confident in your car's brakes, it's an excellent idea to have a technician inspect them before any long road trip. This service will ensure your pads have plenty of life left while also verifying that you don't have significant issues waiting in the wings. The relatively low cost of an inspection can keep you from finding yourself stranded far from home.
2. You're Planning a Mountain Adventure
There are plenty of great trips that involve driving over mountainous roads. These roads can be treacherous for many reasons, so it's best to ensure your vehicle is in the best possible shape before you leave. Heavy brake usage, such as when traveling down a steep grade, can cause your brakes to overheat and fade.
While even good brakes can suffer under these conditions, weak or failing brakes can become severe hazards. You should plan to have every part of your braking system inspected if you know you'll be driving under these conditions. This step can help save your life while protecting other drivers you encounter.
3. You Can Feel Reduced Braking Power
You can't always rely on the wear indicators or wear sensors in your car to alert you to braking problems. These components help alert you to low friction material on your brake pads, but they can't warn you about other braking system issues. Additionally, wear indicators can break off and sensors can fail, leaving you with no warning of impending trouble.
If you notice any change in your braking behavior, you should schedule an inspection immediately. Driving your car with brakes that may be failing can put you at risk, so it's crucial to heed any warning signs you might notice.