It can be easy to focus on the parts that keep your car in motion, but your brakes are arguably one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Brakes are the kind of parts that just wear down over time and need replacement. Signs that your brakes may need repair might be squealing, vibrations or, if you’ve overlooked the squealing for a while, grinding.
Like so many other parts in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to have a regular brake inspection.
Potential Brake Repairs and Replacements:
- Brake Pads
- Brake Rotors
- Drum Brakes
- Brake Shoes
- Brake Calipers
- Brake Fluid
- Brake Lines
- Master Cylinder
Most modern vehicles have rotor braking systems. A rotor is a metal disc that is attached directly to the wheel hub. This means they spin in correlation with the wheel speed. When you press the pedal, brake calipers push the brake pad into the rotor, causing friction which slows the wheels and brings the car to a stop. Naturally, this friction causes wear.
The squealing noise you hear when you apply pressure to your brakes is actually a design feature. Brake pads are built with a piece of metal embedded such that the noise signifies they are worn out. Often people assume these noises are normal and ignore them, but the pads will continue to wear down, eventually affecting brake rotors as well. Once you’re hearing a grinding noise, the pads are very worn to the point that metal is rubbing on metal. This will likely cause further damage to the rotor.
You should have your brakes and pads checked every 5,000 miles. A good way to keep up on it is to have your mechanic check them with your oil change.
These days, when you replace your brake pads it’s common to replace the rotors at the same time as they wear down at about the same rate. If you’ve been noticing a grinding noise, or notice a pulsing when you apply the brakes at a high speed, it’s possible your rotors may need some attention. If they’re warped due to worn out brake pads, you might experience the steering wheel wobbling when you brake. Warping can also cause vibrations that you might even feel in the brake pedal.
Some older vehicles and trailers may have a different style of braking system that uses drums. Instead of a disc on the wheel, there is a hollow bowl-like structure called a brake drum. This type of brake uses brake shoes which are pressed into the inside of the drum by a piston to create the friction needed to slow down the wheels. We are happy to work on older vehicles and trailers with drum brakes.
Calipers, Fluid, Master Cylinder, and Lines
Other parts of your braking system may also need repair or replacement. The calipers that push the pad to the rotor absorb the heat generated by friction, which can cause wear or damage. If a caliper is seized or faulty, the car may pull to the side when braking or the pedal may feel soft or spongy. Your brake fluid may need changing or a flush if it has overheated or if moisture got into the reservoir. Fluid contamination is also one of many possible signs of the master cylinder needing repair, as well as abnormal feeling in the pedal. Brake lines may need replacing or maintenance as well. Possible issues include rusting, clogging, and deterioration depending on whether the lines are made of metal or rubber.
Braking systems are complex and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact issue which is why it’s crucial to visit an experienced mechanic shop like Big Jim’s. If you’re noticing a problem and suspect it might be something within your brake system, we will help you get to the bottom of it and get it fixed. Some mechanics might let your brakes go longer in hopes of working on a more costly repair in the future. We’ll let you know what we think needs work, and we’ll talk you through it. We value educating our customers and pride ourselves on earning their trust. Nothing is too big or too small for Big Jim’s!