Most newer vehicles have disc brakes on the front and rear, just inside each wheel. When you apply your foot to the brake pedal, the brake “pads” clamp down on a metal “disc” to stop the vehicle. Hence the name, disc brakes.
Some older model vehicles will have “drum” brakes on the rear. When you put depress the brake pedal, the brake “shoes” are pushed outward, making contact with the “drum”. Some much older vehicles (pre 1980’s) might have drum brakes on the front and the rear.
Basic Brake Repair
When disc brakes are repaired, the old brake pads are replaced with new pads. Usually the rotors (discs) are taken off the vehicle and resurfaced to insure they have no high spots on them. Rotors with “high spots” are commonly referred to as being “out of round”. Resurfacing them makes them smooth again. If you have ever driven a car and felt a pulsation in your brake pedal, you are feeling the results of a rotor being out of round. When you feel this pulsation, your brake pads are hitting the high spots on your rotor therefore, you can feel it in your brake pedal.
Brake rotors sometimes cannot be resurfaced due to normal wear and tear. Each automobile manufacturer has certain guidelines as to the minimum thickness of the surface of the rotor. If the thickness gets below specs, or resurfacing the rotor will make it below the manufacture’s specs, the rotor will need to be replaced.
Other Items That Might Need Repair
Other items that need to be inspected and possibly replaced are brake calipers, brake lines, the master cylinder and brake fluid.
Brake calipers are part of the braking apparatus on disc brakes that you can see through the wheel. They house the brake pads. Their job is to squeeze the pads onto the discs when you hit the brake pedal making your vehicle stop. Brake calipers suffer from wear and tear just like any other mechanical part on your vehicle. When they wear out, they can cease to function properly and will need to be rebuilt or replaced.
Brake lines are an integral part of your car’s braking system. Most brake lines are hydraulic, which means that fluid is used to transfer power from your foot, via a master cylinder to the brakes. The braking system on your vehicle is a closed, pressurized system. If a brake line is loose, torn or punctured, it can lead to a loss of brake fluid. This will caouse a loss of pressure when you apply your brakes. Brake lines should be inspected to make sure there is no leakage.
The master cylinder is a device that converts non-hydraulic pressure (from a driver’s foot on the brake pedal) into hydraulic pressure. The hydraulic pressure that is created pumps brake fluid to your brake calipers or wheel cylinders (for drum brakes) and activates a piston within the caliper/wheel cylinder causing the brake pads or shoes to make contact with the disc or drum to stop your vehicle.
Brake Repair Wear Indicators
Disc brakes come with a “wear indicator” built in to them. When your pads are getting worn out, a metal screeching or “brake squeal” can be heard. This is the wear indicator making contact with your brake rotor. If you hear this sound, you know it’s time to replace your brake pads. Driving too long with the wear indicator making contact with the rotor can and will damage your brake rotor(s).
In conclusion, there are many other parts that often need attention on your vehicle’s braking system. The ones listed are the most common. Have questions about your vehicle’s braking system? Postle Tire Barn specializes in most all brake repair on cars, light trucks and SUV’s. Give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Postle Tire Barn is a locally owned and family operated business, serving the Tuscaloosa and West Alabama area for more than 35 years.