Matt's Automotive

How to Keep Your Brakes from Letting You Down

Brake Animation

Think of your car's brake system as an extension of your body. If you push on the pedal and the car doesn't respond as you expect it to, you may be in trouble. When your brakes feel good you'll feel better about driving. There are no short cuts on brake work. Invest in the best service you can get.

Brake Failure Symptoms

Noises
Your brake system may be crying for help if you're hearing strange noises when you depress the brake. Two of the most common are squeaks are grinding.

Squeaks
Friction from the brake lining causes heat. Under extreme conditions this can damage the pads and/or lining, brake drums and rotors.

Grinding
A metallic grinding sound indicates your brake pads are worn through. Metal-to-metal contact will damage drums or rotors.

Low or Fading Brake Pedal
Do your brakes require pumping to stop the car? Does the pedal sink to the floor board when you're stopped at a light? There may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines, or the need for a brake adjustment.

Pulling to one side or brake drag
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 cause brakes to drag.

Inspecting Your Brakes

1 Master Cylinder
The master cylinder, heart of the brake system, contains a reservoir for brake fluid. It is located on the firewall and should be checked periodically to ensure the proper fluid level.

2 Brake Lines
Attached to the master cylinder, steel brake tubing runs to all four wheels. Brake lines should be inspected for rust, which can lead to leaks. If the 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
The 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 located in the caliper or wheel cylinder against the pad or shoe. A leak can cause erratic braking or brake failure.

6 Bearings and Seals
Wheel bearings should be inspected and lubricated periodically. Worn wheel bearings, which can cause faulty steering as well as erratic braking, should be replaced.

7 Parking Brake
The parking brake should be adjusted periodically.

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