When should I replace the brakes on my car?

Ask the Mechanic
By: John Gentry
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When brake pads are at 3 millimeters or less (new brakes are 10 to 12 millimeter), and replace brake shoes when they're at 1 millimeter or less (new are 4 to 6 millimeters) or start to get noisy. And always replace your brakes with quality brake pads ” the original type for your car if you can afford them, they wear better and are less noisy. Do I recommend machining rotors? Yes. But it's not always necessary if the lateral run out is within acceptable limits and the surface is smooth. I recommend to machine the rotor/drum to give the brake pads/shoes the best possible surface for the most efficient braking, and also to reduce noise and brake shudder/chatter when braking. Another point to know is that brake pads will always wear different from driver to driver. If you have multiple drivers or a teenager using the same vehicle, you will need brakes sooner than your neighbor. One last thing, don't fall for the lifetime brake gimmick. Some will use cheap pads and that's all that is covered for life. You're going to pay for labor and whatever parts they sell you every visit. John Gentry is the service manager for Maita Ford Mercury at 1650 Highway 49 in Auburn. He can be reached at (530) 823-6591.