Your car’s brakes work hard. And the job they do is critical to your safety. That’s why it’s so important for you to be aware of how your brakes work, and to be alert for signs that your brakes need maintenance. Here you’ll find an overview of braking systems, and tips to help you know when it’s time for brake service. No matter what your brake system needs, Sunnyvale Complete Auto Shop is here to help make sure your car is functioning.
ABOUT BRAKING SYSTEMS
Today’s braking systems are composed of a number of integral parts all working together to ensure that your vehicle stops properly. Generally speaking, by depressing the brake pedal, you are telling the master cylinder to compress brake fluid, which in turn sends hydraulic pressure through brake lines that activate your vehicle’s brake pads (or shoes). These pads (or shoes) then make contact with spinning rotors (or drums), slowing down or stopping the vehicle. More complex systems use sensors to activate the brake system, but the net desired effect is the same.
The parts that make up your vehicle’s brake system wear down over time and eventually need to be replaced. The most common brake repair performed is the replacement of brake pads (or shoes). Whether composed of ceramic, semi-metallic, or organic materials, brake pads erode each time you depress the brake pedal. If the pads wear down too much without being replaced, the metal housing for the pads will make contact with the metal rotors (or drums), which may produce not only a safety issue but a situation where the rotors/drums are required to be replaced as a result of the prolonged contact of metal parts without the pad buffer.
TIME FOR BRAKE SERVICE?
There are several warning signs that your vehicle can give you before your brakes may reach the point of potential failure or extensive repair. Simply using your sense of hearing, sight and touch may alert you to a potential problem. Here are some of the common questions you should ask yourself concerning your vehicle’s brake system:
- Does your brake warning light come on when you are driving?
- Is your brake fluid low? Does it appear very dirty?
- Do you hear a grinding sound or a squealing sound when you apply the brake pedal?
- Do you feel a pulsation or some sponginess in the brake pedal when it is depressed?
- Does your vehicle steer or pull to one side when braking?
These are the most common signs that can suggest a potential brake system problem that should be addressed. Any other sights, sounds or sensations in the brake system that seem out of the ordinary should also be taken into consideration. Most times, brake system problems will only escalate if disregarded.