Angie's List: What's going on with your brakes? - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Angie's List: What's going on with your brakes?

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MADISON (WKOW) -- If the brakes on your vehicle suddenly start making a noise, you may or may not have to take it in to get checked out. Angie's List makes sense of the three sounds our brakes make.

If you hear a squeak, it may be nothing. Automotive service technician Fred Kuhn says, "It could be dirt and it could be the pads are starting to glaze over. Sometimes a couple of really good, hard stops will fix that, but if it continues, it's best to have it looked at." Angie's List founder Angie Hicks adds, "If your brakes squeak when you stop, that might just mean that your brakes need lubricated and don't need replaced."

But if you hear a high-pitched squeal that goes away when there's added pressure put on the brakes, that's a sign you need new brake pads. 

The sound that should cause your heart to pound is the grind. Some might describe it as a low growl. That indicates rotor damage, which is a major safety issue. Automotive service technician Robert Vawter says, "If the brake pad is chewing into the rotor, that can cause that wheel to lock up, whether it's on the front of the vehicle or the rear of the vehicle."

If the rotors are damaged, ask you technician about replacing them instead of trying a repair. Kuhn says, "Nowadays, a lot of places are cheaper to replace pads and rotors than to resurface.  You also get a much better brake job with a much better longevity of the pads."  

Cost can vary widely depending on your vehicle and how much damage there is, but expect to pay between $200 and $300 if you only need new pads. Double that if you also need new rotors. New pads could last anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 miles depending on how you drive.

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