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Brake System Operation and Inspection
How the Brake System Works
Your vehicles brake system is designed to perform only one job and that is to safely stop your vehicle. In order to do that there are three key things needed, a vehicle operator, hydraulic pressure and friction. When the vehicle operator pushes the brake pedal down, the pedal levers and rods actuate the power brake booster. The booster uses engine vacuum or a pump to multiply the force from the operator’s foot to the master cylinder.
Hydraulic lines connected to the master cylinder go out to a proportioning valve or to the ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) module then to each either brake caliper if you have disc brakes or to a wheel cylinder if you have drum brakes. The brake fluid in the lines flows into the calipers or wheel cylinders and the hydraulic pressure pushes the brake pads against the rotors or brake shoes against the drums causing friction which stops the vehicle.
A disk brake system consists of a brake disk, a brake caliper and brake pads. When the brake pedal is applied, pressurized hydraulic brake fluid squeezes the brake pad friction material against the surface of the rotating brake disc. The result of this contact produces friction which enables the vehicle to slow down or stop.
A drum brake system consists of hydraulic wheel cylinders, brake shoes and a brake drum. When the brake pedal is applied the two curved brake shoes, which have a friction material lining, are forced by hydraulic wheel cylinders against the inner surface of a rotating brake drum. The result of this contact produces frictions which enables the vehicle to slow down or stop.
Brake Failure Symptoms
When it comes to your car’s safety, brakes are at the top of the list of systems that need to be monitored. These conditions can cause longer stopping distances and difficult stopping in an emergency situation. However many people are not aware of the warning signs that indicate maintenance or repair may be needed.
Grinding: A metallic grinding sound indicates your brake pads are worn through. Continued driving with this condition not only causes further damage, it is also dangerous.
Squealing: A high pitch squeal noise heard at slow speed without brake pedal contact, means that the brake pads are down to the recommended wear replacement. There is a warning tab manufactured on the pad that rubs against the rotor to alert you. The noise usually goes away when the brake pedal is actuated.
Low or Fading Brake Pedal: Do you pump your brakes to stop? Does the pedal sink to the floor when you’re stopped at a light? You could have a leak, and air in the brake lines or the master cylinder is leaking internally. Any of these symptoms can be dangerous.
Pulling to One Side or Brake Drag: This condition is most often caused by a stuck caliper slides or pistons. The stuck caliper will not apply the same pressure as the other. Correcting this condition early on can save rotors from damage.
Brake Warning Light: Red warning light could indicate an imbalance in the system. An amber warning light could indicate a problem with the ABS system.
Remember to have your brakes checked any time you notice any of these conditions. At Honest-1 we have the expertise and the proper diagnostic equipment to keep you and your family safe on the road.
Why Inspect Brakes?
Do you hear your car squeal with pain when you apply your brakes? A squealing or grinding noise should be investigated immediately. Brake performance has improved in recent years, but a large percentage of vehicles brakes are not checked regularly. Brake work performed before you hear those squeals of pain can save you many dollars in repairs. Worn brake pads that begin to connect metal-to-metal can ruin your rotors or drums and add those extra dollars in brake system overhaul.
Honest-1® Technicians inspect your brakes as part of our famous 21-Point Inspection that they perform during every service visit. A minimum of at least once a year the wheels should be pulled to inspect components that can’t be seen. We have seen brakes wear out as soon as 12,000 to 15,000 miles depending on driving conditions.
What We Inspect:
- Brake lines
- Evaluate the condition of the brake fluid. If the brake fluid absorbs moisture it will become acidic. This can lead to deterioration of seals, and damage ABS module on vehicles equipped with Anti Lock Brakes.
- Inspect for leaks at master cylinder, lines, fittings, hoses, modules, and junction blocks.
- Check emergency brake adjustment
Benefit of a Brake Inspection:
- Insure the safety of you and your family
- Find any problems before they become expensive to repair
- Prevent the possibility of brake failure