The Importance Of Checking Your Brakes: Your Safety Depends On Them

The brakes in your vehicle are a very important safety system. When they work properly, you can slow down and stop your vehicle quickly. Properly functioning brakes can be the difference between getting to your destination and getting into an accident. Proper car maintenance includes checking your brakes as part of your car care plan.

How Your Brakes Work

Your brakes are complex mechanisms that attach to the suspension where the wheels and tires are attached. The brakes ride up and down with the suspension’s movement, and supply the stopping power that slows down the wheels when you apply them.

Most brakes today are disc brakes, although some vehicles have drum brakes in the rear. Disc brakes use friction pads to press against a flat disc that rotates along with each wheel. As the pads press on the discs, the discs slow down and stop the vehicle. With drum brakes, brake shoes with friction pads push against brake drums.

These four sets of brake pads or shoes are responsible for all the braking action on your vehicle. Over time, they will wear. There are also other parts of your braking system that can need service or repairs. Let’s take a closer look at your brakes and focus on areas that could cause brake problems.

Worn Brake Pads Or Shoes

Over time, your brake pads or shoes will wear down and need replacement. These are meant to be wear items, so this is a normal occurrence. Many brake systems have a special sensor built in. This will alert you to replace them when you have used up most of the friction material. You may get a warning light on your dashboard, or there may be an audible signal that makes your brakes squeak when you apply them.

When you see the light or hear the sound, contact us for a service appointment right away. If you do not replace your worn brake pads or shoes at that point, you will probably end up wearing them beyond the end of the friction material. Now you will have metal-to-metal contact, which gives you very poor braking, plus some scraping and rattling noises as you destroy your brake discs, other brake system components, and risk not being able to stop. This will not only place you in grave danger, it will also be very expensive to fix. Do not delay!

Worn Or Uneven Brake Rotors

The brake rotors are the rotating parts of the brake system that the brake pads clamp onto to make your vehicle stop. The rotors also wear, sometimes unevenly. Excessive heat buildup over time can cause them to warp. This will cause a vibration through the brake pedal when you apply the brakes.

This condition reduces your vehicle’s braking ability, and you should schedule a service appointment if you notice this happening. The brake rotors can often be machined to restore their original smooth surface. If they are too worn to be machined, the rotors can be easily replaced with new ones.

Low Brake Fluid

Your braking system is hydraulic, using hydraulic brake fluid to transmit the braking forces from the pedal to the brake calipers and pads. A low fluid level or worn brakes may cause the pedal to seem low or feel squishy. You can check the fluid level in the reservoir located under the hood. Check your manual for its location, and make sure that the level is between the marks. If it’s low, you can top it up with new brake fluid that meets your vehicle’s specs. Next, make a service appointment to have us check this immediately.

Avoid Brake Problems With Regular Car Maintenance

You may not be aware that your scheduled car maintenance services include periodic checks of your brake system. So sticking to your prescribed service intervals should prevent most brake problems, as your braking system’s components will be monitored for wear and safety. Contact us at Westview Ford to set up your next service appointment when you are due, or for any other brake problem or car care need.