Do your brakes squeal, squeak, vibrate, grind, rattle, or make another strange sound? You need to call a brake repair shop—but you may not know what happens next. Take a look at the top questions to ask the mechanic before a brake service.

Does the Noise Mean You Need To Replace the Brakes Right Now?

Some brake noises signal the immediate need for a professional brake repair or replacement. But this doesn't mean that every sound requires this type of service. There are some brake sounds you should never ignore. These include sounds made before you apply the brakes (when the brakes aren't in use), grinding, vibration, and squealing/scraping. While these noises won't always equal the need to replace the brakes, you should contact a pro to investigate them.

The mechanic will need to look at all of the brake components before they diagnose a potential problem. Even though noises are primary symptoms of brake wear or damage, you may also notice other issues. Explain other noticeable issues to the mechanic, such as the failure to brake easily or a brake light that lights up on the dash. Worn brake pads or rotors can pose a serious safety hazard—and require replacement. But noises that come from issues such as dirt or brake dust won't.

Will the Brakes Pass Inspection?

State vehicle inspections help to reduce safety and mechanical failure risks. Each state has its own requirements that a car must meet. Typical brake-related issues an inspection will check for include brake pedal reserve, brake pedal fade, the power braking unit, brake fluid level, brake pad condition, brake drums, rotor condition, calipers, brake lines and hoses, and brake equalization. 

If the noise results from a problem, and that problem means your car won't pass inspection, you will need to schedule car services as soon as possible. Never drive a car that has failed an inspection or is overdue for an inspection. 

What Types of Brake Replacement Parts Are Available?

The list of potential brake components an inspection checks for includes more than just the pads and rotors. While these are the main parts of this system that you may need to replace, it's also possible that the mechanic will need to service the brake lines/hoses or even the emergency brake. 

Before you schedule a service or bring your vehicle into a repair shop, ask the mechanic about the types of parts they routinely use. There are two primary types of replacement parts for cars, SUVs, and other vehicles: original equipment manufacturer (or OEM) and aftermarket parts.

As the name implies, the manufacturer makes OEM parts. Aftermarket parts come from a third-party manufacturer. These parts are often less expensive than OEM parts. While you could save money with aftermarket brake components, these parts may not have the same level of quality or the warranty that comes with OEM options.