Your Guide To Knowing When It’s Time For A Brake Repair
Your vehicle’s brakes are a critical safety component that you rely on every time you drive. Being able to slow and stop your vehicle on the road is a necessity. But, for many drivers, the brake system is often an afterthought until it is needed most.
Understanding how your brakes work, keeping them properly maintained, and knowing the warning signs to look out for will keep your brake system in proper working condition. Thus keeping you, your passengers, and other drivers around you safe out on the road.
How Your Car Brakes Work
If you stop and think about it, what your brake system does is pretty remarkable . Your brakes can bring your large, 1.5 ton (or more) vehicle to a complete stop simply by applying pressure to the brake pedal.
Several things happen very quickly to initiate a stop. When your foot presses the brake pedal, a plunger is pushed against the master cylinder. This releases hydraulic brake fluid through the lines and hoses into the brake calipers of each wheel unit. This hydraulic fluid amplifies the pressure from your foot, allowing you to slow and stop your vehicle.
The brake calipers then apply pressure and squeeze the brake pads against the brake rotors (or discs). Your brake pads, which have a friction material, absorb the pressure and heat of this exchange to safely slow and stop the moving rotors as needed. Every time the brakes are used, parts of this friction material wear away. This is why your brake pads need to be inspected regularly and replaced, if necessary.
There are also additional small parts that hold your brake system together. All of these things need to be in proper function for your brakes to work as effectively as they should.
So, how can you tell when your brakes aren’t working properly and you may be in need of a brake repair? There are several warning signs you should look out for.
The Warning Signs Of Brake Trouble
One of the first signs that often comes to mind when people think about bad brakes is loud screeching coming from the wheels. But, there are several other things to look out for that also indicate it is time for brake service.
Ineffective or Slower Braking
The time it takes for your vehicle to stop can depend on your vehicle’s size, tire condition, the road surface, the pressure applied to the brake pedal, and more. But, if you notice that your vehicle is not slowing or stopping as effectively as it was before, this is a key indicator that your brakes need to be serviced.
When there is an issue with your brake system, it may take longer or a farther distance to make a complete stop. In this instance, you may need a brake pad replacement, new brake fluid, or another type of brake service. Unresolved braking issues can increase your chances of being involved in an accident due to your inability to stop in time.
As mentioned above, unusual sounds when braking can indicate a need for service. You’ll often hear a squeaking or squealing sound caused by the wear indicators near the brake pads. As they become overly worn and make contact with the brake disc it creates this sound. This is the time to bring your vehicle in for a brake inspection.
If left for too long without service, this squealing can turn into a grinding sound. This means your brake pads are completely worn down and the calipers are scraping against the rotors. At this point, stopping your vehicle will be more difficult and repairs more extensive. Replacing both your brake pads and rotors is much more expensive than replacing just your brake pads.
Worn Brake Pads
Overly worn brake pads will often cause the delayed braking reaction time mentioned above. Depending on the design of your wheels, you can look through the spokes and find the brake pad between the caliper and the brake rotor. Visually inspect the thickness of the pad. The optimal condition is generally ¼ of an inch thick.
Pulling to One Side
Your vehicle may be pulling to the right or left as you are driving or braking and you’re probably wondering what could be causing it. Usually, it’s attributed to a bad alignment, worn or uneven tires, or a problem with your car’s suspension that is causing pulling while you are driving. If it is happening when you try and slow or stop the car, this is an indication that something is wrong within your brake system. The problem could be:
- Uneven brake pads: The wheels are receiving different amounts of pressure, causing pulling to one side.
- Stuck caliper: The vehicle will pull towards the side of the stuck caliper that is causing excess pressure on the rotor.
- Collapsed brake hose: The flow and pressure of the brake fluid is impeded and it’s causing the calipers to react unevenly.
Some brake issues will cause vibrations or pulsing through your steering wheel and/or brake pedal during normal braking (versus emergency). This is commonly due to warped brake rotors. In an emergency that requires sudden stopping power, your vehicle’s anti-lock brakes will execute a series of pulsing quick grabs on the rotors to decelerate the car quickly. But, if your rotors are warped, you’ll often notice a different vibration when slowing or stopping normally.
Extreme stress over an extended period can generate enough friction to warp your vehicle’s brake rotors. Descending steep hills or mountainsides or frequent braking while towing heavy loads will heat the rotors to extreme degrees and cause warping. In this case, the rotors would need to either be resurfaced (if possible) or replaced.
Different Feel of the Brake Pedal
Does your brake pedal feel “mushy” or oversensitive? With a mushy pedal, you will feel like you have to stand on it to get the brakes to finally engage. Alternatively, barely touching an oversensitive pedal will cause your car to jolt.
A mushy brake pedal can be caused by worn brake pads, air in the hydraulic brake fluid line, or a fluid leak. If you suspect a brake fluid leak, put a piece of cardboard or paper under your vehicle’s engine overnight and check any drippings in the morning. Brake fluid will be light yellow to brown (if not maintained), with a consistency similar to vegetable oil.
An oversensitive pedal can be caused by overly worn brake rotors and/or contaminated brake fluid.
If any of the warning signs covered above are happening on your vehicle, bring it to the closest Tire Works location for a free brake inspection. We can pinpoint exactly what is going on and determine what brake service you may need.
Rely On The Experts When You Need Brake Service
If it is time for brake repair or service on your vehicle and you are searching for experts in brake repair in Las Vegas, you can count on the experienced professionals at Tire Works. Our ASE-certified master technicians can perform the brake services you need, from brake pad replacement to resurfacing rotors and everything in between.
Drivers throughout Nevada trust the Tire Works Total Car Care experts to meet any of the vehicle repair and maintenance needs they may have. We use only top-quality parts and provide unmatched customer service that you won’t find at other brake shops, all unbeatable prices.
If your car, truck, or SUV needs professional brake service, come into your closest Tire Works location today. Schedule your appointment online now!
Brake Repair FAQs
What Types of Brake Systems Are There?
The two most common types of brake systems are drum brakes and disc brakes. While these systems incorporate some different components, they both have the same job: slowing or stopping your vehicle as quickly as possible.
Some components used in brake systems include:
- Master cylinder
- Brake booster
- Brake pedal
- Brake pads (for disc brakes)
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS) module
- Brake shoe (for drum brakes)
- Brake caliper (for disc brakes)
- Wheel speed sensors
- Brake lines
- Brake drums (for drum brakes)
- Brake rotors (for disc brakes)
How Does My Brake System Work?
As you’d expect, the braking process begins as soon as you press down on your vehicle’s brake pedal. When that happens, the numerous components included in your brake system work in concert to stop your car.
In a disc brake system, pressing the brake pedal activates a plunger, which pushes against the master cylinder. Then, brake fluid travels through the brake lines to the brake calipers located at your vehicle’s wheels. The calipers increase friction between the brake pads and rotors, which ultimately slows or stops the car.
Meanwhile, a drum brake system uses brake drums in place of the rotors and a brake shoe instead of brake pads. Pushing down on the brake pedal in these systems causes the shoe to press against the drum’s interior.
How Can I Know When My Brakes Have Problems?
Brake systems are complicated and need regular maintenance to continue functioning as they should. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take your vehicle in to be checked:
- Brake fluid leakage (as indicated by yellow puddles)
- Decreased brake pedal resistance
- Unpleasant sounds (such as “grinding” noises)
- Sense of vibration in pedal while braking
What Are Some Signs of Brake Pad Problems?
Brake pads constantly deal with friction, which will eventually wear them down. These symptoms can point to problems specific to brake pad wear:
- Vehicle pulling to one side while braking
- Slower braking than normal
- Squealing noises from the system’s wear indicator
- Clicking noises from one or more loose calipers
How Often Should I Have My Brakes Checked?
Any type of car problem can potentially be serious, but you definitely can’t afford to ignore issues with your braking system. You need to have a braking system you can depend on in life-or-death situations, and even seemingly minor problems with your brakes can become worse before you know it. You should take your car in for brake repair as soon as you notice any of the issues listed above.
That said, you may need brake service even if you haven’t observed any signs of trouble. As a rule of thumb, plan on getting your brakes checked every 6,000 miles or six months.
Can I Check And Change My Brake Fluid Myself?
To check your brake fluid, you’ll usually need to find the brake fluid reservoir located on the master cylinder. If your fluid appears muddy or dark, or if it’s close to the minimum line, there’s a good chance that you need brake service or brake repair. (For more specific instructions, check your car’s manual.)
Checking your own brake fluid isn’t a complicated process, but the same isn’t true for changing it. This fluid isn’t something you’d want to handle if you don’t know what you’re doing; it’s highly toxic and could ruin your car’s paint job if you spill any. Instead, take your vehicle in for professional service when you need a change of brake fluid.
Is It OK If My Brake Light Is On?
There are many different problems that brake lights can indicate. Some of these are straightforward, but others need extra attention.
If you’re lucky, the issue may be as simple as leaving your parking brake on. In this case, just make sure this brake is off before you drive.
Some more complex brake issues, such as ABS problems, can activate this light. (If you own a newer vehicle, it likely has a dedicated ABS warning light.)
Your brake fluid might be low, as described above. Along with “normal” brake fluid issues, your vehicle might also have a leak, which would need to be fixed ASAP.
On rare occasions, a false alarm can trigger brake lights. The culprit in these scenarios is often a faulty sensor.
Brake lights may indicate wiring issues in your car, as well.
What Should I Look For From A Brake Service Company In Las Vegas Nevada?
As with any type of vehicle service, choosing the right company for brake repair in Nevada matters. But selecting a company for this task isn’t as straightforward as picking the business with the best rates. If a shop advertises low prices for brake repair but does a shoddy job, you’ll end up paying more in the long run.
Instead, it’s in your best interest to look for an auto repair shop that offers reasonable prices and highly qualified employees. At Tire Works, our technicians are ASE-certified, making them more than capable of fixing your brake system.
What Brake Services Do You Offer?
At Tire Works, we can take care of all your brake repair and maintenance needs. When you drop your car off with our team of experts, we’ll start by taking a close look at your brake system. From there, we’ll provide any services we think you might need.
Depending on the condition of your system, we may resurface your drums or rotors and check/repack your wheel bearings. Along with this, we’ll replace your worn-out brake pads or shoes with high-quality new components.
Which Type of Brake Pads Do I Need?
There are two primary types of brake pads: semi-metallic and ceramic brake pads. Both have unique advantages and disadvantages, so the right choice for one driver may not be the best fit for another person’s needs.
Semi-metallic brake pads consist of metals and graphite. They offer outstanding performance, lower costs, and improved system cooling but can put more strain on the braking system. Ceramic brake pads are easier on braking systems and make less noise, but aren’t as good as semi-metallic brake pads for absorbing heat and are usually more expensive. If you’re unsure which brake pad style matches your driving style best, just ask our brake experts for advice.
Will My Brake Repairs Be Expensive?
How Can I Lower Brake Repair Costs?
The prices offered by Tire Works for brake repairs are highly affordable. Still, you can slash these costs even more with the brake repair coupons available on our website.
For added convenience, all Tire Works coupons are valid at all of our locations. You won’t even need to print them out—you can just show us the coupon you’re using on your smartphone!
How Do I Schedule My Next Brake Repair Appointment?