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      Consumer Confidential: Getting Your Brakes Checked

      Take care of that brake check immediately if you're hearing any strange sounds or feeling any strange vibrations.

      Do your holiday plans include hitting the road this season?

      Then it??s important to check now that your vehicle is ready for the trip.

      Chauncy Hanke, a mechanic at Carlson??s Automotive in Amarillo, says ??tis the season for that kind of attention. ??Before winter time, you should always have everything checked,?? Hanke says. ??Your brakes in particular are very important, especially when it??s snowy and icy on the ground. If you hear any squealing, any noises like that, it??s always a good idea to check your brakes, especially before a long trip.??

      Today??s cars may be more reliable than ever, but they still need regular maintenance. And brakes are one car repair where you don??t want to cut corners.

      How often should you have them looked at? ??Six months on the older cars is a good idea,?? says Hanke. ??On most of the newer cars, anything with the ceramic brakes on them or whatever, they don??t require it quite as often. So I would say at least once a year, have your brakes checked.??

      Some of the signs that your brakes may need to be repaired are squealing and grinding sounds, vibrations or pulsations when you apply the brake pedal, a loss of pressure on the pedal, excessive dust around your wheel covers, and dashboard warning lights.

      How much could a brake repair cost you? Hanke says, ??That could range anywhere from $160 to all the way up to $800-$1,000. It depends on what you actually need. But a normal brake job would run between $160-300.??