Warning Signs for your Brakes
You know you need brake repair when:
- The brake light on your dashboard glows, indicating problems with the anti-lock brake system.
- The brake dashboard light is red, indicating a system imbalance.
- The brake pedal is spongy or slow to respond.
- You hear grinding or squeaking during braking.
Any time you notice these or other problems, you should have your brakes checked. If our inspection reveals a problem, we will explain exactly what’s required, what’s optional and provide you with a written estimate before any work is done.
Your vehicle’s brake system’s job is to stop your vehicle. But it takes several key components to deliver that singular end result. To bring a vehicle to a halt, three things are necessary: leverage, hydraulic force and friction. Leverage is supplied by the driver’s leg pressure and the brake pedal. The pedal is connected by levers and rods to the back of the power booster. The power booster uses either engine vacuum or a hydraulic pump to multiply and transfer the force of that leverage to the master cylinder. The master cylinder is the heart of your vehicle’s brake hydraulic system. It uses applied leverage to force a reservoir full of brake fluid through valves, steel lines and rubber hoses into hydraulic calipers and wheel cylinders. That hydraulic pressure is then used to help create friction.
For example, disc brakes use a hydraulic calipers fitted with brake pads to grab a spinning disc (or rotor). Drum brakes, on the other hand, have a hydraulic wheel cylinder that pushes a brake shoe against the inside of a spinning drum. Either design involves highly engineered parts and precise movement. The more force a driver applies to the brake pedal, the greater the stopping force that is applied at the wheels.
In addition to this primary braking system, most of today’s vehicles utilize an electronic Anti-lock Brake System. Using electronic sensors and high pressure pumps, under certain conditions, your ABS system can measure vehicle speed, wheel slip and brake force. Then it actually pumps the brakes for you during an emergency stop.
That’s why it’s essential to be proactive about testing overall brake components. And to know whether a brake component needs simply to be serviced or totally replaced.
Brakes & Brake Repair FAQs
Q: My car makes a creaking noise when I go over speed bumps. Do I need new shocks?
A: You may, but we’ll know for sure after a thorough inspection. Anytime your vehicle is making an out-of-the-ordinary noise, it’s a sign that something is up.
Q: What causes brake noise?
A: Brake squeals are caused by the brake pads vibrating, spring clips losing tension or poor brake pad fit on the caliper. If you hear a grinding noise when you brake, you’re likely hearing the metal backing of your brake pad contacting your rotor because the brake pad material has completely worn away.
Q: I hear a grinding noise when I step on the brakes. Should I be concerned?
A: Whether it’s a squeal or a grind, brake noise means the brake system needs some attention. Bring your vehicle to our stores, and we’ll be happy to take a look.
Q: My brake pedal feels spongy. Why?
A: If you have to press the brake pedal farther or harder than usual to stop, there could be a hydraulic or mechanical brake problem. Bring your car in for a check as soon as you can.
Q: How often should I change my brake fluid?
A: The most accurate answer is as often as your owner’s manual suggests. Some manufacturers recommend new brake fluid as often as every two years. You also need to change your brake fluid if it contains too much copper. Copper is measured in parts per million, and the industry-accepted limit is 200 ppm. Any more than that and the fluid no longer meets design specifications and should be replaced. We check to make sure your brake fluid is in good shape during our Courtesy Check.
Q: The car pulls to the right or left when I step on the brakes. Why?
A: You may have a hydraulic brake problem, a mechanical problem, or a steering or chassis issue. A thorough inspection will tell us for sure.
Q: Do I have to change my brake fluid?
A: You don’t have to change your brake fluid, but consider this: When the brake fluid shows signs of high levels of copper content, the additives in the brake fluid are breaking down. This increases acid levels, and causes erosion of parts and possible damage to Anti-Lock Brake System components. Today’s anti-lock brake systems are expensive some parts cost thousands of dollars, not including labor. Changing your brake fluid protects this investment.
Q: My car shakes when I hit the brakes. What’s going on?
A: It’s possibly a sign that your rotors need attention, but we’ll know for sure once we take a look.
Q: How long do brake pads and rotors last?
A: All brake pads and rotors wear down. The rate at which this happens depends on your driving style. Cars that drive in town with lots of stop-and-gos will consume brake friction material much faster than cars that drive primarily on highways. Vehicle loads are the other factor. The heavier your car is, the more braking power it requires to stop.