I mentioned last Friday in Parking Lot Mechanic that it's a good idea to check your brakes on a regular basis, as well as how to do it.
This is why it's important. Someone posted these images of "the worst brakes I've ever seen" on imgur. The poster's customer rolled into the shop with a 2003 Buick LeSabre, complaining of a funny noise and not having any brakes.
No shit. You actually have to replace brake pads — and rotors, although less frequently — for them to work correctly. The damage caused by not replacing the pads was way more expensive than just getting it out of the way.
I'm probably preaching to a choir of fellow Jalops here, but for those of you in the "I press the stop pedal and the go pedal and put that smelly gold stuff in a hole in the side and it magically keeps working" crowd, you should be checking your oil and fluids every time you gas up (even if it's a new car, you never know) and looking at (or having someone else look at) you brakes and steering components at least once a year. It's not that difficult.
Blowing up your engine because you didn't check the fluids is one thing, but letting your brakes (and/or steering) get to this point puts everyone else on the road in danger. (Hat tip to Pete!)
Photo credit: gh0stmach1ne/imgur