Don’t let Brakes-Break the Bank

The brakes on your car are the most important part when it comes to keeping you and your family safe on the road.  A properly functioning system will allow you to avoid dangerous situations.  Keeping your braking system in excellent condition is actually pretty simple.

First lets take a look at the components of your brake system:

  • Brake master cylinder-provides the brake pressure that activates your calipers and wheel cylinders.
  • Brake booster-provides the brake assist known as power brakes
  • Caliper/wheel cylinder-pushes the pads or shoes against the drums or rotors to create friction.
  • Brake pads/shoes-friction material that when pressed against rotors and drums slows your car
  • Rotors/Drums-the metal components at each wheel that use the force of the pads and shoes to slow your vehicle.

There are other parts associated with your anti-lock brake system but they do not affect your mechanical brake operation.

Most of us will only have to replace pads/shoes and drums/rotors during the life of our car because these are wear items and have a finite life span.  Your brakes should be inspected at every service visit so you know when they need to be repacked before they fail or cause additional repair cost.  If your brake pads are not changed soon enough they can damage the brake rotor and caliper very quickly.

If your brakes do not feel right or are noisy have them inspected by a qualified and trusted repair shop.  If you require a brake repair or replacement make sure quality parts are used and no corners are cut when performing the service.  Brake pads should be replaced when they are 2mm or less and brake shoes at 1mm or less.  Rotors and drums should be resurfaced any time pads or shoes are replaced to ensure proper contact between them.  Rotors and drums should also be replaced when they are under minimum thickness provided by the manufacturer.

If your brake pedal feels really soft or really hard your repair will most likely be related to the master cylinder or booster assembly.  A pedal that applies and then sinks to the floor is a good indication of a brake fluid leak.

Your brake fluid should be changed regularly to ensure your brakes work properly.  When the fluid gets old it has a higher moisture content and lower boiling point.  This will cause the system not to work as well when it is hot and your pedal will start to feel spongy.

October is national car care month and is a great time to have your brakes and entire vehicle inspected for safety and reliability.  If you do require brake pad replacement, you can get a great deal and help breast cancer research by participating in the Brakes for Breasts program.

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