Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Brakes are the kind of parts that just wear down over time and will eventually need to be replaced. If you see any of these signs that your brakes might need repairing: 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 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 brake pads are often the most abused parts of the brake system. The brake pads are the part that gets heated up during braking. Because of all this wear-and-tear, they get thin over time. 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 so the noise alerts you that they are worn out. Often people assume these noises are normal and ignore them, but the pads will continue to wear down, eventually affecting the brake rotors as well. Once you hear a grinding noise, the pads are worn to the point that metal is rubbing on metal. This will likely cause even more 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 when you have your oil changed.
If your car won't stop as fast as it used to, or if it's been driven approximately 40,000 miles since your last brake job, it's probably time to get your brake pads replaced.
These days, when you replace your brake pads it’s common to replace the rotors at the same time because they wear down at about the same rate. If you notice 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 because of 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 can 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 can pull to the side when braking or the pedal may feel soft or spongy. Your brake fluid might 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 that the master cylinder needs repair, as well as abnormal feeling in the pedal. Brake lines may need replacing or maintenance, too. 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 Automotive. If you notice 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.