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atcU, Brakes 101

How do they work?

When you push on the brake pedal, it creates hydraulic pressure in the master cylinder. This pressure goes to the wheel cylinders and brake calipers and forces the shoes against the drums (drum brakes) and pads against the rotors (disc brakes). That causes friction that slows down the car.

Why should I get my brakes serviced?

Your brake system is THE most important safety system in your vehicle. Do not put off routine inspections and repair! Brake wear is normal- eventually you’ll need to replace them. They wear out and become thinner. If the thickness of brake pads is less than 3mm, it’s time to change them.

Worn down brakes makes stopping take longer and puts you and others at risk. Plus it’ll cost more money to fix them in the long run. Have them checked every 12-15 months and inspected right away if the brake-warning light is on. And make sure to break them in properly!

Also, flush your brake system every two years or 24,000 miles to get rid of the moisture that naturally builds up. That’ll help your brake system last longer and keep your brakes working better.

How do I know if I need my brakes serviced?

•  My pedal is lower than usual; it feels “mushy.”
•  My car pulls to one side when I brake.
•  My dashboard has a brake warning light on.
•  I feel the steering wheel vibrating.
•  I hear squealing or screeching noises when I brake.
•  I smell something weird or see smoke.

What do we do in a typical brakes service?

We inspect your shoes/pads, master and wheel cylinders, hoses, calipers, hardware and fluid. Then we check the parking brake to see if it needs adjustment or if the shoes/pads need replacing.

We also check on the condition of your drums or rotors to see if they need resurfacing or replacing.

Our warranty on premium NAPA brake pads is 24 month or 24,000 miles (whichever occurs first). This warranty does not cover against brake pulsation due to improper break-in, excessive heat or improper wheel torque.

Brakes are pretty much the most important safety device on your car. If you’ve ever partially lost your brakes in the past, you’ll agree that it’s not something you want to experience again. Inspecting your brakes twice a year for wear and damage can protect you and your passengers. Additionally, it will also help save you money by catching any damage before it becomes too costly.

Brake System Components That Can Fail

The master cylinder, the heart of the vehicle’s braking system, holds the brake fluid when it is not being delivered to the brakes through the brake lines. If brake fluid leaks because the master cylinder is worn or brake lines are plugged or broken, the fluid cannot be delivered, and the brake pads will become ruined.

The brake fluid itself can become dirty or contaminated as it draws rust-causing moisture and picks up other debris, or it can break down from excess heat. Clean brake fluid is either clear or slightly yellow, while dirty brake fluid may be brown or even black. Old and dirty brake fluid can damage ABS brake systems internally.

The brake lines connect to the master cylinder through a combination valve, which combines a metering and proportioning valve. It regulates the pressure on the front and rear wheels to make sure both sets of brakes are applied simultaneously. A malfunctioning combination valve may cause the wheels to lock up.

Brake pads and shoes can be made of ceramic, metal or organic materials, while the disc rotors and drums they press against are made of metal. Because the pads and shoes create friction to stop the car, they gradually wear down over time and may wear away completely, letting the metal of the calipers and cylinders they are attached to grind against the rotors and drums and damage them. Some pads have a metal strip attached that sounds a warning whistle when the pad becomes too worn, but this strip sounds only when the car is in motion and the brakes are not applied.

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