The Importance of Maintaining Brakes

Dave Baker/Flickr Creative Commons

Brake maintenance is one of the things that is the least thought about on your vehicle – until the brakes start making noise. Even then, people often wait until a while before bringing their vehicles in to a certified service department like SouthTowne Motors for brake service – and that can be a huge problem: Not only for your safety but for the safety of others and the expense it could cause you in repairs.

Brake Basics

While there is a lot to a vehicle’s brake system, suffice to know that the system is made of a power booster if you have power brakes, a master cylinder that holds the brake fluid, hydraulic lines that go from the cylinder to the brakes, calipers or wheel cylinders, pads or shoes, and rotors or drums. The wheel cylinders and drums work with shoes and are becoming rare on most vehicles. The vehicles that do have them use that combination on the rear brakes. When the braking material gets too low on shoes, you’ll hear a grinding noise.

Brake pads have a metal tab on the pad itself. Once the braking material gets too low, the metal tab will scrape the rotor and make a squeaking noise to alert you that it’s time to change the pads.

Brake System Issues

The most common brake repair is to replace the pads or shoes. A technician will turn the rotors to give them a smooth surface if they are thick enough. If not, the rotors also need to be replaced. Other brake issues include:

  • Worn calipers;
  • Broken, cracked or dry-rotted brake hoses;
  • Cracked brake lines (not common as they are metal);
  • A bad master cylinders;
  • Thin, pitted, warped or grooved rotors;
  • A bad master cylinder; and/or
  • A bad power booster.

Any one of these problems poses a danger to you, others around you and the rest of the braking system. If you don’t have your worn brake pads or shoes changed as soon as you hear the squeaking – or before if you regularly have your brakes checked, you will risk an over-extending the calipers and you will definitely damage the rotors, usually to the point where they can’t be turned and need to be replaced.

You could also cause damage to the master cylinder, the brake lines and the power booster, though you’d have to drive quite a few miles to do this – in most cases. Because letting your brakes go without maintenance does cause additional damage to the system, it is very important that you bring your vehicle in to our service department at SouthTowne Motors as soon as you are told the pads are low or as soon as you hear the metal tab squeaking against the rotor.

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