Owning a car means that inevitably, at some point, you’ll need to have repairs and maintenance done on your vehicle. Brake repair is among the most common issues experienced by car owners.
Unlike other routine aspects of vehicle maintenance — such as putting air in tires, changing bulbs, and topping up motor oil — a car brake repair shouldn’t be attempted by anyone without specialist knowledge and training.
Brakes are a major part of your car’s safety and operation, and this article will answer the most common questions about brake repairs.
How Do Brakes Work?
Essentially, brakes make your car stop. When you push down on the brake pedal, cylinders send brake fluid to the calipers, and that powers the brake pads. The brake pads put pressure on the rotors to create friction, which stops the tires from moving and brings your car to a halt.
Depending on the speed you are driving at, you should be able to bring your car to a rapid, safe, and controlled stop in just a few seconds. If your car’s brakes aren’t working correctly, though, it can take longer to stop and that’s especially dangerous in an emergency situation. Your car brakes may fail altogether, which can be incredibly hazardous.
Modern cars have hydraulic braking systems. Some systems use brake pads while others use drums. And some vehicles feature anti-lock braking systems (ABS), while hybrid cars have a regenerative braking system that combines electrical processes with hydraulic brakes.
The main components of a hydraulic braking system (depending on whether it is a disc or drum assembly) include:
- brake pedal
- brake rod
- master cylinder
- brake lines
- brake calipers
- brake pads
- brake shoes
- brake drums
- brake boosters
- disc rotor
- wheel cylinder
- warning lights
- parking brake
If any part of the braking system is damaged, worn or faulty, your brakes can fail.
What Causes Brakes to Wear Down?
Various factors contribute to brake pads wearing thin. Often, front brakes wear faster than rear brakes. Brake pads wear out over time as accumulated mileage increases. Heat and pressure occur each time you use your brakes, which contributes to natural deterioration.
Type of driving plays a part, too. For example, somebody who mainly drives around cities, with the regular stop-start of commuter life, will generally wear their brakes out faster than somebody who usually drives along quiet, rural roads or constantly flowing highways.
Driving habits are also a factor. Regular hard braking creates greater wear and tear on brake components than gentle, slower braking. People who drive faster may also wear their brakes faster, as it requires more pressure to brake from faster speeds than it does when traveling slower.
Drivers should take into consideration their overall vehicle load. Increasing the vehicle weight by regularly carrying lots of passengers and/or heavy items puts greater strain on the braking system; it needs to work harder to bring the car to a stop. Environmental factors can cause brake pads to wear down quicker, too. Excessive dust on the brake pads and rotors, for example, can cause additional wear on tear on components.
How Long Should Car Brakes Last?
There is no exact timeline for how long car brakes should last.
There are so many factors that can affect the lifetime of brake components, along with the differing quality of car parts. Some drivers will find that they need to replace brake pads after around 20,000 miles, while others won’t need to think about a car brake service for up to around 70,000+ miles.
Make a regular brake service part of your car maintenance habits. And, if you suspect there is an issue with your brakes, have them checked by a professional immediately.
How Often Should I Have My Brakes Checked?
With so many variables at play, as with how long brakes should last, there is no golden rule as to how frequently you should book in for a car brake service. Most vehicle manuals contain recommendations for how often to have a brake inspection, though.
At a bare minimum, you should have your brakes checked once a year. If you cover many more miles than the average driver or have had past issues with premature wear and tear, it’s recommended to have more regular checks.
But checking brakes and carrying out car brake repairs aren’t things you can easily do yourself. You need special equipment to be able to lift the vehicle and remove the wheel, along with the necessary skills and training to know what you are actually looking for. Also, you may need to take parts of the braking system apart to accurately identify any issues and perform safe repairs. Would you know, for example, how to identify damage and how to repair brake lines on a car?
Remember: brake checks are for your safety and to prevent potentially devastating accidents on the roads. To reiterate, the moment you suspect there may be a problem with your brakes, don’t wait to have your car checked.
How Do I Know When I Need to Replace Brakes?
Often, the first signs of brake wear and tear are subtle. Warning lights may alert you to problems, too. Having a regular brake service can potentially identify issues earlier, which is not only safer but also can reduce the need for more costly repairs later on.
Things to keep an eye and ear out for include:
- Noisy brakes – may be an indication of worn brake pads or shoes
- Grinding brakes – may be an indication of worn brake pads or shoes
- Leaking brake fluid – usually shows to need a car break line repair
- Skidding when braking – could be due to failing ABS
- Steering wheel vibration when braking – may be an indication of damaged drums or rotors
- Pulling to the side when braking – may be caused by damaged brake calipers or cylinders
- Increased pressure to break – could be an indication of air bubbles in brake fluid, low brake fluid or a leak
- Reduced braking power – could be caused by low brake fluid, worn brake pads or damage or faults within the master cylinder
Brake Checks Are Vital!
With so many potential risks and many possible causes of brake problems, regular brake checks and timely repairs are essential for all drivers. When searching for “brake repair near me,” Professional Motors of WNY is a trusted professional choice for all car matters.
Qualified technicians will thoroughly check your brake system and provide full details of any issues and advisories. The team will carry out necessary repairs that meet all safety regulations for complete peace of mind. Contact us for all brake issues, as it might just save your life.