Brakes – What’s Stopping You?
Did you know that when you step on your brake pedal, you command a stopping force that is 10 times as powerful as the force that sets the car in motion? The brake system of a vehicle can exert as much as 1,000 pounds of hydraulic pressure on each of the four brakes. Yet, we find that many vehicle owners, wait for issues with their brakes like, squealing and/or grinding noises, or a brake pedal to feel soft before having their brakes checked out. Regular brake inspections are a good way to avoid additional damage that can be caused by driving a vehicle with worn brake parts.
The brake system in your vehicle uses frictional force to slow down and stop the vehicle.
On disc brakes the brake caliper is a hydraulic clamp that pinches the brake pads onto the rotor to stop the vehicle. On drum brakes the wheel cylinder is a hydraulic component that forces the brake shoes against the brake drum to slow or stop the vehicle. On both those brake systems you have a master cylinder that converts brake pedal pressure into hydraulic pressure for brake system operation. The other components you have in a standard brake system it the brake hoses and lines that carry the brake fluid from the master cylinder to the calipers and wheel cylinders, and the park brake cable that connects the park brake lever to the brake system in order to keep the vehicle from moving when parked.
Following a regular inspection program for your brakes, has a few different benefits. It will allow you to budget for repairs, knowing ahead of time when your brakes will need to be serviced. If you perform repairs before the pads or shoes are metal to metal and completely worn out, it is usually less expensive. Then most importantly, is the safety factor, your vehicles’ brake system would always be in top working order.
The following inspections and maintenance procedures can help prevent potential brake problems. Checking brake fluid levels at each oil change. Replacing brake fluid according to the manufacturers’ recommendations or when it gets discolored, or is contaminated with water absorption. Check brake hoses and lines for rust, punctures or visible leaks. Check brake pad depth on both inner and outer pads. Check caliper operation and wheel cylinders. Check brake shoe depth, and make sure they are free from cracking or fluid contamination.
Always be aware of the following warning signs; chirping, grinding or squealing noises,
brake lockup, vehicle pulling left or right, reduced braking force, spongy or soft brake pedal feel, brake pedal pulsation and any sign of brake fluid or grease leaking around the wheels. In any of those cases we recommend having it checked out immediately.
Following the inspection procedures can help keep an eye on potential problems and take care of them while they are still small. Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive in Historic Downtown Gresham.