Answer these questions before you make the decision to change your vehicle’s brakes

If your vehicle’s brake pedal feels like you’re stepping on a sponge or you hear that annoying scraping sound when you try to stop, it’s time to think about changing your brakes.

This isn’t the easiest maintenance job you can do on your car. So before taking the plunge and doing all that work, consider a few important points. Unlike an oil change that only requires replacing the old with the new, a brake job on your vehicle has more potential complications.

Here’s are a few things to consider before taking on the job.

Are your vehicle’s brakes safe to handle?

Believe it or not, some brakes could prove hazardous to your health. Some vehicle part manufacturers used to use asbestos when making brake pads, and inhaling dust from those parts could be dangerous. When inhaled, asbestos fibers never leave the human body and can cause life-threatening diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, according to Asbestos.net.

Do you have the right tools to replace your brakes?

It’s not just a job for a wrench and a screwdriver. Brakes require special tools, like a C-clamp or some other device you’ll need to compress the pistons in your brake calipers to remove the old brake pads.

What part of your vehicle’s brake system needs to be replaced?

If your brakes aren’t working right, it could be more than just worn out pads. There are other components that could be faulty, including the rotor, master cylinder, brake caliper and piston. In some case, you may not need to replace the brakes at all. Maybe all you need is some more brake fluid or grease to reduce the friction, according to Cars.com.

Do you have the supplies you’ll need to replace your brakes?

Once you’ve answered all the questions above, it’s important to have everything you need to do the job. That not only includes the replacement parts – brake pads, rotors, pistons and any others. It also includes things like brake fluid and grease. And then there are other items, like a car jack and jack stands that allow you to elevate the vehicle’s wheels so you can get to the brakes. And don’t forget the brake fluid bleeder.

If you’re happy with your answer to these questions, then chances are you’re ready to jump into that do-it-yourself brake job. The savings you can expect could be as much as $250 on the basic car, according to Edmunds.com. And the savings could be greater if you are lucky enough to own a luxury car (although chances are, if you can afford to own a BMW, you can afford to pay someone else to change your brakes.)

But remember, if you have any doubts to the answers to these questions, it’s worth it to pay a mechanic to handle the job. Saving a couple of hundred bucks isn’t worth it if you injure yourself, damage your vehicle or expose yourself to dangerous and deadly material like asbestos.