Knowing that your brakes are in good working order brings peace of mind. Regular brake inspection helps identify parts that are worn or no longer meet design specifications before they damage other parts of the brake system. Below we will take a look at how your brake system works, what the symptoms of faulty brakes are, and what is involved in a typical repair. Let’s dive in.
Attached to your car’s spinning wheel is a rotor, which is the part of the wheel that the brake pads press against to create enough friction to stop your car. Since the brake pad is under extreme pressure from constant braking it eventually wears out and needs to be replaced. Brake pads are attached to the caliper which applies all of the pressure to the rotor. You can imagine the calliper being like an arm and the brake pad being a hand that squeezes the wheel to reduce its speed. The caliper works by hydraulics, which means it needs hoses running brake fluid to it at all times to function. As you depress the brake pedal, brake fluid engages the hydraulics which engages the calipers to press the brake pads onto the wheels and stop the car.
Here are some symptoms of worn brakes:
- If there is a problem with the antilock brake system, your ABS brake light will activate on your dashboard;
- A red warning light on your dash will glow when there is a problem with fluid pressure, fluid levels, leaks, and when the pads are low a light turns on in cars equipped with a low pad indicator;
- The brake pedal feels spongy, or is not as responsive as it used to be;
When the car pulls to the left or right when depressed;
- Grinding when braking is a good indicator, as well as squealing. Most cars have a squealer that is attached as a warning indicator that the brake pads are nearing the end of their life. Squeaks can be harmless when caused by bits of dust or rust, but they should be inspected to insure it is not from dangerously low brake pads.
- A shaking steering wheel and brake pedal when depressed warns of a warped rotor.
Notes on a typical repair: Typically just the brake pads and rotors are replaced when we do a brake job. If you live in a mild climate, your callipers will enjoy a very long life and will greatly outlast the pads and rotors so they won’t automatically be replaced. Hoses outlast the pads and rotors as well, so we do a visual inspection to check for external cracks and only replace them when there is cause for concern over potential brake fluid leakage.
A typically pad and rotor brake job should take about an hour and a half. When you see and hear some of the warning signs just give us a shout and we can slot you in the next window we have available.
The number one way to reduce wear on your brakes is to reduce your speed. Stopping from 110 kmh instead of 95 forces your brakes to use a third more energy. Since the motion of your car is kinetic energy, the force behind it is an exponent (half of your car’s weight x the square of its speed), so every extra kilometre per hour on the road means extra friction and extra wear and tear on your brakes. There is a great article full of tips right here, worth the read to help you add to the life of your brakes.