Understanding your brake system: Essential things to know
Understanding your brake system requires knowing how the individual components work, why they fail, and how they should be maintained so they can last many miles. This knowledge can save you both money and time. If you don’t know where to start, our experienced and licensed car mechanics at American Auto Care will take you through exactly what you need to know about your brake system.
Just like any other systems with mechanical components, the vehicle’s braking system also encounters problems over time. This could be caused by normal wear and tear, abuse, or lack of maintenance. Whatever the root cause of the braking system’s failure may be, the effects could either lead to performance issues or catastrophic accidents.
Here are some of the essential things that you should know about understanding your brake system.
Understanding Your Brake System: Disc Brakes Versus Drum Brakes
Traditional vehicle braking systems (also called frictional braking systems) come in two types: disc brakes and drum brakes. Some vehicles have a combination of these, while some exclusively have only one type.
Disc brakes have rotors, calipers, brake lines, and pads, and they offer a stronger braking power than drum brakes. Drum brakes, meanwhile, have brake shoes, return springs, pan-shaped drums, and hydraulic wheel cylinders.
Old-model vehicles usually have drum brakes on their rear wheels, while most modern cars have disc brakes on all wheels.
Understanding Your Brake System: Types of Braking Systems
Aside from the frictional braking system, there are two other braking systems used in cars: electromagnetic and hydraulic.
An electromagnetic braking system is typically found in hybrid cars and electric vehicles. The system uses an electric motor that generates an electromagnetic field to slow down the vehicle and put it to a full stop.
Meanwhile, a hydraulic braking system has a master cylinder, calipers, pads, and rotors. The brake pedal helps compress the hydraulic system and increase pressure, which is then transferred to the brake calipers or wheel cylinders.
Understanding Your Brake System: Benefits of ABS Technology
Before the introduction of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) technology to the automotive industry, there have been countless accidents traced to wheels locking up because of their brakes.
This revolutionary technology was first used in aircrafts that require immense stopping power to safely slow down and stop humongous airplanes. ABS has become a standard feature in many of today’s cars, especially those that are used in racing like Formula One cars.
ABS technology includes sensors that monitor the speeds of the different wheels and manage the brake pressure to prevent skidding, particularly on wet roads. There are countless potential accidents that have been averted, thanks to the life-saving feature of ABS technology.
Understanding Your Brake System: How Emergency Brakes Work
Parking brakes prevent vehicles from moving while they are parked on a flat surface and even on a steep angle. Aside from this function, they also serve as an alternative braking system when the car’s main braking system has failed.
In emergency situations, having a last resort to slow down and stop the vehicle can be life-saving. Most parking or emergency brakes are located in the center console near the shifter stick, while others are found close to the steering wheel or right beside the floor pedal.
Understanding Your Brake System: Brake Fluid Is Critical
You should regularly keep your brake fluid in check. Your car’s brake fluid can attract and sustain water, which could lead to problems during hard braking or cause damage to the rubber seals.
If your braking system is compromised because of your brake fluid, it could lead to an accident that could be debilitating or fatal. This is why you should regularly check your brake fluid for signs of contamination.
If the fluid is dark or cloudy, it is contaminated. If so, you should flush the fluid, refill the reservoir with the recommended brand and properly bleed the system to remove air bubbles that could compromise braking performance.
Understanding Your Brake System:Trouble Signs To Watch For
Vehicle braking systems don’t go bad out of the blue; instead, they have trouble signs that could serve as your early warning system to have a licensed mechanic do a comprehensive check of your brakes.
Among the common braking system trouble signs that you should watch out for are:
Wheels are locking up or skidding when engaging the brake pedal
Brake pedal vibrates or pulsates during braking
Deep braking (pedal travels deep when braking)
Soft or spongy brake pedal feel
Squealing or screeching noises during braking
Understanding Your Brake System: Basic Brake System Maintenance Tips
Aside from regularly checking your brake fluid for possible contamination, you should also do other maintenance procedures to maintain great braking performance.
Here are some of the basic maintenance tips for your car’s braking system:
1. Regularly replace the brake pads. Brake pads won’t last forever. If they have already reached their threshold and they no longer help slow down the vehicle quickly, you should replace them at once.
The rate at which brake pads should be replaced is not uniform, since it depends on certain factors such as the type of pads, your braking habit, and mileage. For good measure, have the pads checked every 6,000 miles and be sure to watch out for tell-tale signs of brake pad wear.
2. Check the master cylinder and brake lines for leaks. There are cases when brake fluid does leak somewhere along the brake lines or the master cylinder. If it happens, the car’s braking power is sure to be severely affected.
In situations where it’s absolutely critical to slow down or stop the vehicle quickly, this problem can lead to a fatal accident. Knowing this, you should allocate time or simply have a professional mechanic check your brake lines and master cylinder to check for leaks and perform repairs if needed.
3. Maintain brake rotors. While rotors are basically maintenance-free, it doesn’t mean that they won’t have to be repaired or replaced ever. When having your brake pads replaced, make sure to always check the rotors as well.
If there are already deep grooves due to worn pads, you may have the rotors resurfaced; however, if the grooves are too deep to be repaired, you don’t have any choice but to replace the affected rotors at once.
Seek professional help for your brake system - Call our friendly local car repair experts
Our company, ASR/American Auto Care is a leading car repair service provider operating from Murrieta, CA. We serve clients across Southern California by offering affordable professional maintenance and repair services with positive outcomes.
Aside from understanding your brake system, you should also entrust your car’s brake repair and service in general only to a professional mechanic with years or decades of experience.
Keep in mind that your life and those of your passengers are always on the line every time you sit behind the steering wheel, and it makes perfect sense to be 100 percent sure that your vehicle is road-worthy. A licensed car mechanic can help you guarantee just that.
If you want to know more about our offered services or if you wish to schedule a repair or maintenance, please call us today at 951-461-2507. Our friendly staff will be ready to answer your questions and book your appointment. We look forward to serving you.
Tags: Brake System, how does a car brake system work, car brake system repair and maintenance, car brake maintenance tips