I believe the saying goes: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". Most commonly used as a metaphor, but it also is true when your auto starts acting up. In another life, many moons ago, I wrote service for vehicle repair. Service writing had long hours, but allowed you to build a nice rapport with the customer.
Today I still have friends asking miscellaneous questions about auto issues. Amazingly I still archive several typical, and even less common issues, away in my head from those years of service writing. A common one I want to share involves squeaky brakes.
The question is: "I think my brakes are squeaking, what should I do?" The answer is simple, get them inspected. While some shops charge, others due a free visual inspection of brakes. If you get them inspected when they first squeak, chances are you will save yourself hundreds of dollars. How, do you ask? Nearly all brakes today have what's called a squeak bar (or wear bar). This is a small metal tab that protrudes out from the pad itself. When the pad material gets down to a certain point (about 2/32 of an inch), this metal tabs starts to make contact with the brake rotor.
So what happens once the squeaking stops? If you don't get the brakes inspected after hearing a continual squeak, your repair bill may double. If the brake pad material wears down to the rivets, chances are you will be also need new rotors not just pads. The average brake job can range for $150 to $350 per axle. When it gets to the point of needing new rotors however, that price will likely double! So if the squeak stops, don't think "oh it just went away, I'm okay".
Always put brakes and tires atop your maintenance list. These are the things that help you keep your vehicle under control. Loss of control is one of the top reasons for most major (non-alcohol related) accidents in this country.