Front Disc Brake Caliper

Brake Inspections Save on Brake Repair Costs TTD006

In this episode we present the importance of having a regular brake inspection to help you avoid doubling the price of your next brake job. Pat says they inspect every vehicle that comings into the shop. Brakes are one of the most important items to inspect because of safety but also to help reduce brake repair costs.

Free Brake Inspections with Oil Changes at Tune Tech Downtown

The first part of the brake inspection Pat mentions is the brake fluid getting checked for contamination. The most common contamination refers to moisture from the air moving into the brake fluid. Because of the make-up of the fluid it attracts moisture. Too much moisture can cause fluid to not work as well during hard braking.

Next Pat describes the use of a gauge to check the thickness of remaining disc brake pad material. This brake lining material is what wears as the brakes are used. The gauge gives a reading that indicates how many millimeters of lining are left.

When brakes get down to 3 to 4 millimeters we advise our customers to start thinking about needing to have them replaced. On most vehicles when the pads get down to 2 millimeters its time to have the brake pads replaced.

Brake Rotors and Calipers Were Destroyed by Worn Brake Pads

Worn Brake Pad Rotor

The brake pad lining is bonded or glued to a metal backing. If the pads wear too far the metal backing can rub on the disc brake rotor and damage the rotor. That is when the cost of a brake job can double because if the rotors are damaged too much, they must be replaced.

Pat describes this type of scenario in a case study on a brake job that escalated to more than double the normal cost because of this type of problem. A Dodge truck customer came into the shop for normal oil change maintenance. During the brake inspection they noticed his brakes were down to 2 millimeters. The truck owner didn’t have time to get the brakes done at that time.

By the time he brought the truck back the lining had worn down to the metal and dug into the rotor. It wore so far that the disc brake caliper piston that pushes on the pads, came out of the caliper.  The consequence of not doing the brakes when needed resulted in not only needing new brake pads, but also needing new rotors and calipers.

The basic disc brake pad replacement and turning the rotors on this truck would have cost around $300 to $400. The result of waiting drove the cost to around $1000.

Pat talked about other parts of a brake system like rubber brake hoses that are inspected and need replacement if they are cracked. He mentioned the anti-lock brake and traction control systems. These computer-controlled systems work with the basic brakes to help in emergency stops, and when driving on slick roads, like we have in Boise during the winter.

Dash Warning Lights for Brakes or Anti-lock Brakes Should be Checked Immediately

If a computer recognizes a problem with any of these systems it turns on dash warning lights. Red lights relate to park brake systems or basic hydraulic brake fluid problems. Amber or yellow colored warnings on the dash relate to anti-lock and traction control problems. In some failures you could have red and yellow lights on at the same time.

Any time lights are on the car owner should get their vehicle checked. Usually brake failure codes will be stored in the computers. Repair shops can read the codes and go through a diagnostic procedure to determine what is causing the problem.

Brake Inspection Form


A brake inspection is the best way to minimize brake repair costs. At Tune Tech Downtown brake inspections are free. They are included with every oil change and we strive to check over every vehicle that comes into the shop.

We hope the case study in this episode helps highlight the importance of not letting brakes wear too much before having the pads replaced. Brakes are like all the other systems on our cars. They can last a long time and require very little repair, if they are maintained.

Cars and trucks are the second highest investment and monthly expense for most of us. We hope these podcast episodes show the importance of maintenance and how it can save you money.

If you have any questions about brake inspections or anything relating to brakes just give us a call at (208) 336-5315.

Did you like the show? If so please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. If you use other players you can give us a review there. Thanks for listening.

What you’ll learn from this episode on brake inspections:

  • Brake inspections save on brake repair costs
  • Pads that wear to far can cause rotor damage
  • Brake rotors are turned on a lathe to smooth their surface for new pads
  • If rotors have been turned they can become too thin to re-use
  • Contaminated brake fluid can be replaced with a brake system flush
  • Anti-lock brakes and traction control systems work with the basic brakes
  • Warning lights in the dash illuminate when brake problems occur

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