Your brakes feel “off.” So, you do a quick online search for “free brake check near me” and end up at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care. Smart move. The technician takes your car into the service bay while you enjoy some hot coffee. What happens next? Is there magic involved? A machine? Get the full rundown on what's included in a free brake check, what our techs look for, and why they do what they do.
The Full Rundown on Free Brake Checks
A lot more goes into a free brake inspection at Firestone Complete Auto Care than many people are aware. From start to finish, our technicians meticulously examine every aspect of your vehicle’s braking system. After all, as one of our Managing Operators, Nick, says, “You can build the best engine, but if you can't stop it, then it’s scrap metal.”
1. Test Drive
Depending on your preferences and observations, our technicians may test drive your car to observe all symptoms firsthand. A test drive is their chance to experience any sounds or smells you pointed out, document anything that seems abnormal, and get a general idea of what’s going on. They’ll check the brake lights for proper operation as well.
2. Visual Inspection
Following the test drive, a technician will pop the car's hood for a visual inspection of the engine area. They’ll take a look at your vehicle’s master cylinder, power booster, brake lines, vacuum hose, and combination valve. In particular, the technician will look for signs of damage or leaking fluids.
3. Brake Fluid Check
Next, comes a strip dip brake fluid test. A technician will lower a test strip into your brake fluid to diagnose its condition. These strips are similar to the pH testing strips you may have used in high school chemistry class.
Why do we check brake fluid? Because brake fluid helps turn the movement of your brake pedal into the power needed to stop your vehicle. It's also a lubricant and anti-corrosion fluid that helps to make sure your vehicle's brake system works optimally.
4. Undercarriage Inspection
After the under-the-hood check is complete, your vehicle is raised on a lift. The technician inspects the undercarriage for physical damage, wear, and leaks. They also check the front brake hoses, mounting brackets, and wheel cylinders for damage or rust. Any abnormalities are documented along the way.
5. Wheel Component Check
Up next is a wheel inspection. Your vehicle remains on the lift but is lowered a bit so the technician can check wheel bearings for excessive movement and other such hazards. The technician will then remove your vehicle’s wheels to inspect the hub and lug nut holes for unsafe wear or damage.
Additionally, they’ll carefully check both caliper assemblies for a variety of issues, like rusted caliper slides and signs of leaking fluid. Brake rotors are carefully measured and checked for physical damage.
A quick note: As unfamiliar as these pieces and parts are, they each play an important role in your car's ability to stop.
The calipers engage your brake pads. Your brake pads apply pressure to the rotor, which directly connects to each wheel. This pressure creates the friction needed to slow or stop your vehicle. When the rotor slows, so do your wheels.
6. Braking Component Assessment
Then, technicians will remove your vehicle’s rear brake drums to inspect them for a variety of different problems, including cracks and hard spots. They’ll compare all findings to the manufacturer’s specifications.
The brake check concludes with a variety of detailed inspections. Wheel cylinders, pins, springs, washers, pads, the backing plate, and primary and secondary brake shoes are all inspected for damage, distortion, or abnormal wear and tear. Your e-brake and your brakes' self-adjusting mechanism are examined for proper operation.
Give Your Brakes the Checkup They Deserve
Whether you’re well versed in the language of auto care or most of this information sounds foreign, you can rest easy knowing that our brake inspections are thorough and our technicians are experts. It's our goal to keep you safe on the road and safety shouldn't come at a high price. That's why our brake checks are entirely free, and our brake services are affordable. Schedule an appointment today for a free brake check at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care.