Your Brakes And Why Preventive Maintenance Helps

October 20th, 2021 by

When your brakes work correctly, you don’t notice them. You simply expect your vehicle to coast to a stop when you step on the brake pedal. When these components fail in the middle of traffic on a busy highway, you’ll experience sheer terror as you plow into the next car. To prevent this dangerous experience from happening, you need to understand what your brakes are and how preventative maintenance keeps them functioning at optimal levels.

Brake Basics

The most important safety system in your car consist of the brakes, which come in four types:

  • Disc brakes rely on calipers to squeeze pads against a disc or rotor to create the friction that slows the rotation of your wheel to a stop.
  • Drum brakes press two brake shoes against the brake drum, which slows and stops the attached wheel.
  • Working independently from disc or drum brakes, emergency brakes, which are also called parking brakes, apply mechanical pressure to the wheels to ensure that a vehicle stays stationary when parked. You can also use these brakes in an emergency if your drum brakes fail suddenly.
  • Antilock brakes work on most newer vehicles to prevent your wheels from locking up, especially on slippery roads, and sending your vehicle into a skid.

Warning Signs

If you experience the following warning signs, get your brakes inspected right away. You don’t want the issue to deteriorate to the point that your brakes no longer work.

  • Brakes feel spongy or mushy.
  • The brake pedal or steering wheel shakes when you coast to a stop.
  • You hear strange noises when you step on the brake pedal.
  • You smell strange odors, especially like something is burning.
  • Your vehicle pulls to one side during braking.
  • Brake fluid sprays onto the outside of a wheel.

Brake Maintenance

The following are some maintenance tasks that are needed to keep your brakes in working order. Beyond adding brake fluid when the reservoir is low, you shouldn’t be doing any of these tasks yourself. Aside from their complexity, brakes require precise adjustments during maintenance. Otherwise, they can compromise the safety of you and your passengers.

Check brake pads and rotors.

The brake pads and rotors comprise the two parts that wear down the most in your braking system due to friction. The depth and quality of the pads have to be checked to ensure that they deliver enough resistance for your vehicle to stop.

Flush brake fluid.

Pressing on the brake pedal builds pressure through the brake fluid from the master cylinders, which proceeds through the brake lines into the calipers. The pressure then goes to the brake pads and rotors. This can attract moisture that can damage your system by corroding metal components and reducing the boiling point of the fluid to make the system less effective. Brake fluid should be inspected and changed every 25,000 miles or so, especially if it appears milky or cloudy.

Bleed the brake lines.

Brake lines can accumulate too much air, which reduces the effectiveness of the braking system. To eliminate the trapped air, the brake lines need bleeding, which can happen every two or three years.

Replace braking components.

As brake components age, they may wear out and need replacing to maintain the effectiveness of your system. At that time, you may also want to upgrade to a higher grade or more specialized parts. For example, you can switch to ceramic brake pads, which produce less brake dust and are quieter. Doing these changes and upgrades can make your braking system last longer and perform better.

Where to Get Your Brakes Maintained

When you want your brakes inspected or maintained, take your vehicle to Federico Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Wood River, IL. Our automotive techs are factory-certified to work on your specific brand. They use only manufacturer-vetted parts to keep your drive in as original a condition as possible.

For quick fixes, you’re welcome to wait in our lounge and enjoy free WiFi. If you need to return to home, school, or work, you can ride our complimentary shuttles. If your service is going to take a while, you can rely on our convenient on-site rental cars.