I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard it from a service customer, usually a guy: “Brake Service…I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous..”
The way that manufacturers sell maintenance has changed over the years and has made life tougher for both the dealer and the consumer. Many maintenance requirements have not changed, but as manufacturers marketing departments compete to lower the operating cost per kilometre of new cars, they often remove service items from their basic package.
Anyone who has ever followed their full maintenance schedule has always done a brake service annually, they just may not know it. Chances are that it was built into the annual service. Honda, Toyota, Nissan and most other traditional imports used to do it that way. Over the last few years however, brake maintenance is one of the items that manufacturers have broken out of their basic schedule. Sadly for the consumer, this actually does not reduce the operating cost, as now the dealer can charge more than they did when it was part of a package.
That said, a brake service is an important part of keeping your brakes in top shape and should not be ignored. With the trend towards larger, more open wheels, disc brakes are more exposed to the elements than ever. What this exposure does is allow road grime to build up on the moving parts of your brakes and cause them to get sticky. The pads pads start to stick in the carriers and the caliper sliders begin to stick. This causes a couple of things. The most obvious is that it causes the brake pads to wear unevenly, which means that 1 pad of the set may wear prematurely. By not allowing even pressure, the brake pads do not clean the disc properly, which allows the discs to rust prematurely. This condition will get progressively more pronounced, eventually affecting the car’s ability to stop in a straight line. In a panic stop, this can make a bad situation even worse by causing the car to change direction unexpectedly.
A technician will remove the brake calipers, clean & lubricate the carriers that the pads slide in. While he’s at it, the tech will remove the caliper sliders to clean the sliding surface and apply fresh lubricant. While it’s apart, they may sand any rough edges off the pads which may be causing some noise. Depending on the manufacturer guidelines, the discs may be sanded to remove ridges and the lip of rust that builds up around the outer edge.
Now you know why your dealer is trying to have you service your brakes. Doing a brake service every year or 24,000 km will extend the life of your brakes by helping them wear evenly and keeping them quiet. It may even save your life in an emergency.