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CAR FACTS
Braking System

 

Brake work performed in time saves money as well as lives.  Your brakes are inspected each year during your state-required safety inspection.  However, you should be alert at all times to any change in brake performance, any unusual sounds when you are braking, or a chirping sound when you apply the brakes.

 

Some vehicles have “chirpers” built into their braking systems to warn you of worn brake pads.  You may also hear a squealing or grinding noise.  When you hear any of these noises, you should have your vehicle's brakes examined.

 

Common brake failure symptoms include:

 

  1. Noises.  Squeaks and grinding are two of the most common sounds you may hear.  Friction from the brake lining causes heat which can damage your brake pads, linings, brake drums or rotors.  A metallic grinding sound indicates that your brake pads are worn through.  The resulting metal-to-metal contact will damage drums or rotors.
  2. Low or Fading Brake Pedal.  If you need to pump your brakes to stop the vehicle, or if the pedal sinks to the floor when you are stopped, there may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines, or your brakes may need to be adjusted.
  3. Brake Drag or Pulling.  Worn or uneven brake linings or a damaged brake line can cause your vehicle to pull to one side.  Brakes that are out of adjustment or have contaminated fluid can drag.

 

TERMINOLOGY/PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

 

  1. Master Cylinder – The master cylinder contains a reservoir for brake fluid.  It should be checked periodically to ensure proper fluid level.
  2. Brake Lines – Steel brake tubing runs to all four wheels.  Brake lines should be inspected for rust, which can lead to leaks.  If brake lines are damaged, they should be replaced.
  3. Brake Hoses – Rubber brake hoses run from the brake lines to the brake calipers and wheel cylinders.  Constant exposure to road grime, dirt, salt and other elements can cause the rubber to become brittle and crack, leading to brake failure.
  4. Linings and Pads – Pads and brake shoe linings should be checked periodically for uneven or excess wear, glazing, or saturation from brake fluid or grease.
  5. Calipers and Wheel Cylinders – Brakes are activated by brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder pushing a piston Iocated in the caliper or wheel cylinder against the brake pad or shoe.  Leaks can cause erratic braking or brake failure.
  6. Bearings and Seals – Wheel bearings should be inspected and lubricated periodically.  If your wheel bearings are worn, they should be replaced to avoid erratic steering or faulty braking.
  7. Parking Brake – Your parking brake should be adjusted periodically as it may begin to lose grip as the brake cable stretches.


 


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