The brakes are imperative parts of your vehicle's operation, but they are also important for keeping you, your passengers, and others on the road safe. Unfortunately, they will eventually wear out. There is not an exact schedule to follow on when to replace your brakes, but you will notice some signs. From screeching when applying the brakes to a grinding or pulling, these signs are telling you your brakes are in need of repair. Before you head to the auto repair shop for a brakes service, here are a few terms you need to know regarding the repair or replacement of your brakes.
When you think about your brakes, you probably think about brake pads. These cushioned pieces provide a layer of protection between your wheels and rotors. Over time and with constant braking, the pads will wear down, requiring a replacement so your brakes work in an effective and efficient manner.
If you don't replace the pads, the stress will affect the rotors, as well. Also known as discs, the rotors help your wheels stop evenly and without delay.
Signs of warped, worn rotors include the following:
- Loud grinding noise when applying brakes
- Steering wheel vibrates when applying brakes
- Vehicle pulls to one side when braking
- Actual brake pedal vibrates when stopping the vehicle
If your brakes and rotors are both worn, replacements are essential to ensure you can stop your vehicle safely.
There are instances where rotors may be saved. If your rotors are experiencing only minor distress, such as slight warping or damage, technicians may recommend resurfacing them instead of replacing them.
Resurfacing can restore the surface of the rotors using a grinding tool. This improves the function of the rotor, which improves your vehicle's braking capability. Resurfacing cannot repair rotors that have begun to rust or corrode. It is also not a suitable option for repairing rotors with deep cracks, grooves, or hard spots. Therefore, replacing the brake pads and rotors will be recommended. Resurfacing rotors is also more affordable than replacing the rotors, but you should not sacrifice safety to save money.
When you are preparing for a brake repair or replacement, your technician may mention the ABS, or anti-lock braking system. Most vehicles today have this electronic system because it is a much safer option. Although common, you may not understand the ABS and its benefits.
In emergency situations where you need to apply your brakes quickly, your wheels may lock up, causing you to lose control of your vehicle. An anti-lock braking system prevents this danger using sensors to keep you in control of your vehicle even when braking hard, fast, or on slippery roads.
Faulty pads and rotors can decrease the function of your anti-lock braking system, so it is important to replace these components of your braking system if they are malfunctioning. Also, paying attention to the ABS light on your dashboard is also important.
Each time you turn on your vehicle's ignition, the ABS system completes a test to ensure it is functioning properly. The light will illuminate when you first turn on the ignition, but it will go off immediately unless your vehicle's computer finds an issue. If the light stays illuminated, there is a problem that should be addressed immediately.
Bleeding is another term you should understand before your brake repair is completed. Bleeding is actually considered part of the repair process, so it is completed when replacing your brake pads and rotors and refilling your brake fluid.
When the cap to your brake fluid reservoir is opened, air enters into the reservoir. Even a small amount of air can cause problems with your brake system. In most cases, the air will cause your brakes to feel spongy when applied. You may also hear the common noises that signal your brakes are bad, such as grinding and screeching when braking.
The bleeding process basically is done to remove any air in the brake fluid reservoir and lines. This improves your vehicle's braking capability while prolonging the lifespan of your pads and rotors.
Before your next inspection or repair of your brakes, make sure to understand these common terms.