You won’t find any quarrel from anyone – daily commuter, long-haul trucker, track addict or offroad racer – when it comes to acknowledging the fact that brakes have to be in top condition every time you step out the door to drive whatever vehicle it is you drive. Any car or SUV that has unreliable brakes would be terrifying to drive, and the chances for an accident or injury are great.
Let’s face it. The most convenient way to maintain the brakes in your car would be to drop it off at the dealer’s and pick it up after a couple of hours. But it’s an ugly reality that not all dealers provide consistent quality service, or competitive prices. Long-time car owners have probably developed a good relationship with an independent mechanic or service shop, and this would be an excellent alternative to a dealer. But new cars that are handled by an independent mechanic could have their warranties voided if the manufacturer finds out that is not being maintained by a factory mechanic. And with new technologies being applied to each generation of cars, it may sometimes be the case that your trusted mechanic will not be updated knowledge-wise.
Luckily for owners who want to DIY their brake service or save some money, replacing your car’s brake pads doesn’t require you to have an engineering degree, much less a vocational certificate. It’s true that like most other components in modern cars, electronics have become part and parcel of braking systems. These range from simple sensors to control modules that control anti-lock brakes and traction control. But, these components aren’t user-serviceable, so to speak. Most often, sensors and control boxes are discarded and replaced if they go wrong. Replacing brake pads is a procedure that has been well-established for decades, and is quite easy to learn and do. And even if you have had a big brake kit installed, the procedure for servicing and upgraded brake system is practically the same.
Only you can decide which would be the best way to maintain your car’s brakes. If you have more money than time, then having a dealer or service shop work on your car would be the best recourse. However, if you are mechanically adept, want to save money or just learn a new skill, then doing it yourself can be a very satisfying routine. For a lot of enthusiasts, working on your car from time to time is a rite of passage that has been with us since our love for cars began.