How To Tell If You Need New Brakes
In the past brake noises such as a grinding metal sound, rumbling, and squeaks were obvious signs the brake system was in disrepair. These days, with emerging brake technologies and new materials that give brake pads a much longer life, noises aren’t always the clear-cut signal that brakes need to be replaced. Still, anytime your vehicle is making sounds you haven’t noticed before, it’s a good idea to have it looked at by a professional. When it’s time to have your brakes repaired or replaced your vehicle will display symptoms such as:
- BRAKE or ABS lights illuminated on the dashboard
- Noises when stopping
- Noises while stopped
- Metallic or grinding sound when brakes are applied
- Difficulty pressing the brake pedal
- Shaking in the pedal or steering wheel when pressing down on brake pedal
- Soft, low pedal
- Increased distance when stopping
If your vehicle experiences any of the symptoms above, contact the experts at Sun Auto Service so that we may properly evaluate any braking concerns on your vehicle.
Sun Auto Service Brake Inspection Process
The brake system is a complex system that has several areas that must be inspected to complete a brake inspection and ensure the safety of each vehicle. When you first arrive to our service center, a Service Advisor will ask questions and ask that you describe any braking concerns you have. Provide as much detail as you can related to squealing, squeaks, grinding, or creaks. By doing so, your Technician will have a better idea of what the issue may be and what to look at specifically, during the inspection.
After ensuring the vehicle is free from any immediate safety concerns, the Technician will test drive your vehicle. The test drive is meant to duplicate any symptoms you noted as well as any other symptoms that could indicate the brake system needs attention.
After returning from the test drive, the Technician will pull the vehicle into the service area and place it on the service rack so that all 4 wheels may be removed for inspection. Since brakes work in unison of front to back, this necessitates the need to inspect all brake components. The Technician begins with a complete visual inspection checking the master cylinder, brake booster, steel and rubber lines, brake fluid condition, calipers, brake pads/shoes, and rotors/drums. Using a specialized brake gauge, the Technician will measure the thickness of each brake pad and use a micrometer to determine the thickness of the rotors. Based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, the brake rotors must be replaced once they have been worn past a certain point. A rotor that is too thin, is unable to properly dissipate the heat from friction.
Additionally, brake calipers can only travel so far before damages occur. If brake pads are too thin and combined with a rotor worn past a certain point, the piston inside the caliper can overextend, resulting in damage to the caliper. Once all areas of the brake system are inspected and measured, a recommendation will be made on the vehicle’s needs and how to properly repair the brakes.
Sun Auto Service Brake Replacement Process
The Technician will perform the following during a brake replacement:
- Brake shoes or pads will be replaced (both front and rear on left and right sides)
- Drums or rotors replaced or, if applicable, resurfaced to for reuse
- Brake hardware replaced or re-lubricated for smooth brake pad travel
- Wheel bearings repacked (if applicable)
- Brake fluid bled or flushed (if applicable)
- Vehicle road tested both before and after repairs
How Do Car Brakes Work?
When you press down on the brake pedal to begin slowing down or stopping the car, with the use of hydraulic brake fluid, friction is created at the wheels, that force the vehicle to stop. When you press the brake pedal, you are utilizing a lever system that employs a vacuum or electric support to move the piston along the inside of the master cylinder.
The movement from the piston forces the hydraulic fluid into the brake lines of your vehicle that lead to all four wheels. In many cases, the system is also equipped with an inline Anti-Lock Braking system valve to regulate the pressure created in preventing the brakes from locking up. Once the pressure to all four wheels is created, the wheel calipers or cylinders move the brake pads towards the rotors to create friction and pressure that initiates the process of slowing and stopping the vehicle.
How Does The Anti-Lock Braking System Work?
The anti-lock brake system valve uses a signal received from the wheel speed sensors to gauge the pressure received from the master cylinder. A micro-processor in the braking system, known as the ABS module, determines whether the vehicle is braking too quickly. The system reacts by quickly and temporarily suspending the braking, creating a grab and release action, that prevents the wheels from locking up and causing a skid.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brake Repair
Q: How often should I change my brake pads?
A: The life expectancy of brakes depends on varying factors. Poor driving habits such as braking excessively, frequent hard stops, driving uphill and downhill or steep grades, weight of the vehicle including cargo and passengers, the type of brake pads the vehicle is equipped with, brake fluid condition, and a worn out suspension system can reduce the lifespan of brakes. Because of all the different contributing factors, it is recommended to have your brakes inspected often. At Sun Auto Service, we perform free brake inspections with many of our services, especially oil changes.
Q: Why does my car shake when I hit the brakes?
A: Brake shake can be caused by several different issues including worn suspension components, worn brake pads, or warped rotors. The ABS system attempting to activate due to failed or damaged components can cause shaking. It’s best to have an experienced technician inspect the system to determine the cause as not all “brake shakes” are caused by the braking system.
Q: What is the cost to repair brakes?
A: Brake repairs and replacement costs vary based on what is necessary to repair the area of the brake system properly. Every vehicle’s needs are unique. Some vehicles may require replacement of multiple brake components while some many only require brake pads and resurfaced rotors. Take advantage of the free brake inspection provided by Sun Auto Service to determine what your vehicle may need. Our friendly Service Advisors will review your options and discuss the amount of time and costs required to repair your brakes properly.