Most vehicles on the road today use hydraulic braking systems, usually with disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear. With disc brakes, hydraulic fluid operates a caliper, which presses the brake pad against the brake disc (rotor). In drum brakes, fluid pressure through the cylinders presses the brake shoes against the inside wall of the brake drum. In either case, the hydraulic pressure and friction causes your vehicle to stop.
At the first sign of brake trouble, you need to take your car to a certified brake specialist. Only an experienced professional has the training to provide high quality brake work and the knowledge to answer specific questions about your brake system.
For routine inspection, bring your car in every eight to ten thousand miles for a thorough check of all the braking components. It'll protect you against avoidable brake failure in the future.
Heed the Warning Signs
Chances are you'll be the first to know if you have brake problems. Be alert. These are some of the common warning signs that indicate you should have your brakes inspected:
Grab -- brakes that grab with the least amount of pressure.
Low Pedal -- the brake pedal almost touches the floor before activating.
Pull -- the car pulls to one side when the brakes are applied.
Vibration -- any vibration you feel when the brakes are applied.
Hard Pedal -- extreme pressure is needed to make the brakes function.
Noise -- some noise is normal, but excessive grinding, squeal, chatter or screeching is not.
Mileage -- have your brakes checked every eight to ten thousand miles.
Protect yourself and your vehicle by taking good care of your brakes.
It's time to check and/or service your brakes when :
• The red "brake" lamp on the dash lights up.
• Your "ABS" or "Anti-lock" dash indicator is lit while you are driving.
• You can hear a grinding sound or squealing coming from the wheel area.
• The brake system feels different, such as a vibration, softer brake pedal or pulling to one side when stopping.
A qualified Brake-O technician can thoroughly inspect and service these parts of your brake system:
1) Master cylinder
The heart of your brake system, the master cylinder pumps brake fluid to the wheel cylinder or calipers when you push down on the brake pedal. The fluid reservoir level of the brake system should be visually inspected from time to time. It is recommended that brake fluid should be replaced about every 30,000 miles.
2) Calipers and wheel cylinders
The function of the calipers (for disc brakes) and wheel cylinders (for drum brakes) is to convert the energy of the pressurized brake fluid into pressure to operate the brakes. A periodic inspection for leaks around the rubber seals should be carried out to maintain good working order.
3) ABS sensors and controller
Your ABS system is electronically controlled. This system detects problems of which, some can be self-corrected, while others will shut down the ABS system, which causes the ABS light on the dash to be illuminated. Some problems are recorded in the vehicles computer for the technician's reference when servicing the braking system.
4) Brake pads and shoes
An inspection will determine if you need to replace the linings of your brake pads and shoes. This procedure is referred to as a "brake job", should be carried out frequently for maximum performance.
5) Parking brake
Use your parking brake to keep the system properly adjusted. If the parking brake is not used it may not function when it is needed and it will fail the annual Texas state inspection.
Take care or your car's engine and you can expect it to last 200,000 miles or more. Change the oil every 3000 miles. Repair oil leaks immediately. Have the coolant/antifreeze serviced regularly, and do not drive your car if it's overheating.
Check the air pressure monthly. Low tire pressure can cause premature tire wear, poor handling/steering, and reduce gas mileage. Rotate tires every 6000 to 10,000 miles. Brake-O will rotate tires and check air pressure free of charge during brake repair or any other service or repair.