There's a TV commercial featuring Ice-T, who claims one needs to be a "rocket scientist" to fix vehicles today. With all that goes on under the hood and the computerization of functions large and small, the famous rapper and actor may be correct. Yet, there's much a driver can do on his own before need of a skilled auto technician.

Say the wheel wells are emitting curious noises or squeaks, especially when applying the brakes. What comes next is easy to accomplish, thus relying on honed driver instinct.

At some point, bend or kneel before the affected wheel well. Glance through the spokes or hub at the brake rotor, which comprises a heavy disc and encasing. Should this disc be ground down to a bare minimum, and below the surrounding casing, you'll need new rotors and accompanying calipers. It's that simple.

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