Taking care of your vehicle’s brakes isn’t optional and a regular brake inspection should take place during every vehicle’s maintenance inspection. Of course, you may experience trouble with your brakes in-between inspections, so you should be aware of the common brake system problems and symptoms, such as:
- A brake warning light that comes on
- Squealing or grinding sound from the brakes
- Spongy feeling when you press the brake pedal
- Difficulty or hard feeling when you press the brake pedal
- Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes
The different types of brakes are drum and disc. Drum brakes are mostly found on the rear wheels. When the brake pedal is applied, brake shoes or pads push against the inside of the drum, which causes the vehicle to slow down. Disc brakes have a rotor that’s attached to the vehicle’s axle, and the brake calipers straddle the rotor, which ‘pinches’ the rotor when the brake pedal is pressed.
There are a few components that make up the brake system, and each of these need to be inspected and serviced regularly:
Brake pads and shoes wear with ordinary every day use and can become very thin, making the pads ineffective for braking. If the pads are not replaced, they can deteriorate which can result in damage to the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor, which means the rotor must either be resurfaced if the grooves are not severe or replaced all together which can be expensive. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and must be replaced.
There are also different qualities of brake pads. There are regular, metallic and ceramic. The higher qualities are more expensive, but offer significantly better braking performance and operation. It’s acceptable to upgrade your brake pads; however you should never use a quality that is less than what the vehicle maker recommends.
Brake fluid is a critical and often overlooked part of the braking system. When the brake pedal is applied, the pressure in the fluid activates the brake pads or shoes. If there is not sufficient fluid, there will be not enough pressure to activate the brake pads properly, and therefore slow down. Water can also accumulate in the brake fluid over time, which can cause corrosion, leaks and brake damage to where the brakes could severely fade or even fail. You should check the brake fluid level regularly and change the brake fluid according to your manufacturer guidelines.
But putting it off regular maintenance to your braking system is dangerous because it could result in your vehicle not being able to stop as quickly. It’s critical to have it properly maintained by a licensed auto repair shop, like RC Auto Specialists. Doing this is a lot cheaper than having to pay to have your vehicle replaced after an accident.