Category Archives: Brakes

Bad Vibrations (Brake Rotor Replacement)

If you’ve ever stepped on your brake pedal and felt your vehicle vibrate, that’s a signal that you shouldn’t ignore.  A pulsating brake pedal is a sign that something is wrong.  Braking action should be smooth, sure, and quiet, not shaky and noisy. Most newer vehicles have disc brakes, called that because they have a round, flat disc connected to each wheel.  Those discs are the rotors. Other parts called brake pads are squeezed against those discs when you press on the brake pedal. Remember that vibration we mentioned? That can be caused by the rotor not having a straight, true surface. Rotors can heat up from friction and warp.  They can become thinner from constant wear.  Rotors can rust from the elements they’re exposed to, such as rain, snow ice, and salt.  They can get grooves in them from so many contacts with the pads.  The signs of worn rotors are vibrations, grooves on the rotor (which you can see sometimes through op ... read more

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Brakes

More than Pads and Rotors (Brake Caliper Replacement)

You might be familiar with brake pads and rotors, two components of your vehicle's brakes that have to be regularly serviced.  Here's another important component of your brakes: the calipers. Calipers are used in disc brakes, the type of brakes now found in most recently manufactured vehicles.  A caliper is the part of the brakes that squeezes the brake pads against the discs, or rotors, which turn with your wheels.  There are different kinds of calipers, but the basic principle is the same.  You press down the pedal, brake fluid activates a piston or pistons that squeeze the brake pads against the disc and the friction slows down your vehicle. While modern vehicles have a warning system to let you know it's time to get your brakes checked, your brake light usually goes on when your fluid level is low or your fluid pressure is low.  But you may have to look out for signals your calipers are the problem.  If your vehicle pulls to one side when you brake, th ... read more

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Brakes

Them's the Brakes (Brake Rotor Resurfacing)

Your vehicle's brakes wear out.  It's inevitable. You'll notice it when you step on the brake pedal and feel it harder to stop, or there's vibration when you are braking.  Most modern vehicles have disc brakes that each use a brake pad that press on a disc (disc brakes!) called a rotor.  The friction between them enables you to stop, and each time you do a little bit of the pad and the rotor wears down. The original brakes on vehicles used a rotor that was thick enough to last through at least two replacements of the pads.  But vehicle manufacturers who want to save costs and weight now make them thinner, and sometimes the rotors have to be replaced after the first pad replacement.  But not always. Vehicle manufacturers specify a minimum thickness to provide safe braking.  Sometimes rather than having to have your rotors replaced, they can be put on a lathe and resurfaced.  In other words, the surfaces of the disc can be slightly shaved off so the sur ... read more

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Brakes

A Sticky Brake Situation (Parking Brake Service and Maintenance)

We've all been there.  You park your vehicle on a steeper than usual hill and worry about it rolling down while you're running your errands.  So you decide you'll use the parking brake.  When you get back, you release the parking brake, hit the ignition, put it in gear and—uh, oh—you can feel the parking brake is still on.  It's stuck.  What do you do now? Welcome to the world of infrequently-used parking brakes.  Yes, they do stick for several reasons. It's common for components to corrode and get locked up.  Sometimes if you have applied it extra hard, it can jam.  Could be a rusty cable, could be a spring that doesn't return the brake to its disengaged position.  Some pieces just break when they're stressed for the first time in a while. A caliper or the pivot arm it's on can also stick. There are a few things you can try to unstick it.  Carefully rock your vehicle by putting it first in drive and then reverse.  You ... read more

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Brakes

It's Brake Time (Brake Calipers)

Race car drivers have demonstrated the advantages of disc brakes, so most modern vehicles use them.  Sometimes just the front wheels have disc brakes, but many vehicles now have them all the way around.  A major component of the disc brake is called a caliper.  It works by squeezing brake pads against the disc or rotor, kind of like a bicycle hand brake.  The brake pads themselves are what contact the rotor, causing friction to build and the wheel to slow down, but it's the calipers that apply the pressure to the pads. Caliper design has evolved over the years, and there are two common types.  One is called a floating caliper.  It has one or two pistons on one side of the disc. When you push down the brake pedal, the piston or pistons in your caliper put pressure on that one side.  A mechanism connected on the other side of the disc applies pressure as well, squeezing your disc so the vehicle stops.  Floating calipers are less expensive since the ... read more

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Brakes

Bad Vibes (Disc brake rotor problems)

If you were to name the most important safety feature on your vehicle right now, what would your answer be? A lot of driving experts would agree that it’s your brakes.  Most newer vehicles use a well-engineered and efficient style of brakes called disc brakes.  The name disc brakes comes from one of the components: a disc attached to the wheel hub that is squeezed by parts called calipers.  If you’ve ever ridden a bicycle with hand brakes, you probably have seen how they squeeze against the rim of the bike wheel to stop the bike. It’s similar to the way your vehicle’s calipers squeeze against the disc rotor, with added parts called brake pads attached to the calipers that are what create the friction and stop your vehicle. Here’s why disc brakes need regular maintenance.  Over time, that friction creates wear and tear on the brake pads and the rotors, and you’ll start to see the signs.  Your brakes may have one of the 3 &ldqu ... read more

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Brakes

Slipping into Fall (Driving with ABS Brakes)

As the weather changes over from hot to colder, drivers will have to deal with more slippery streets.  And it's important to know how to drive with the brakes you have on your vehicle.  In the 1970s, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) started to be installed on vehicles and they've been a game changer for drivers.  Most modern vehicles have ABS and it's important to know how to drive with them. In older vehicles without ABS, the driver applies the brakes by pushing down the pedal.  That, in turn, sends braking pressure to all four wheels at once.  But all four tires don't have the same traction because the road surface they're each on isn't exactly the same. ABS allows sensors to determine when particular wheels are slowing down more quickly.  The ABS then reduces braking pressure to the wheels that are about to lock up.  That way the wheel turns and the tires keep some grip. (You have to have grip to stop.) It's kind of what drivers try to achieve when ... read more

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Brakes

Time for a Brake (Brake Pad Replacement)

Stop! It's one of those things your vehicle has to do consistently and reliably.  That's why brake maintenance is vitally important, worthwhile for you to make sure stays up to date. A brake system has many components. If your vehicle has disc brakes, they have pads that make contact with the rotors (the metal discs).  Those pads usually have a metal back, and the part that presses against the discs is made of a material which provides friction to stop the vehicle. Because of that friction, the pads are expected to wear down and eventually the rotors will, too.  But the pads usually are the part that will need to be replaced more often. But how do you know when it's time? There are several signs, one of which is when your brakes squeak or make a high-pitched sound when you step on the brake pedal.  Many newer vehicles also have sensors on the brake pads.  When the pads get worn down to a certain point, the sensor will tell the vehicle's computer to turn on a li ... read more

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Brakes

The Need for Speed (Wheel Speed Sensor Maintenance)

Today's vehicles have some pretty amazing technology in them, including a computerized braking system we all pretty much take for granted these days.  Antilock brake systems (ABS) have been around for years but they help drivers stop in much shorter distances reliably than ever before.  When you see your ABS warning light come on, it's important to find out what's causing the problem. It's a safety issue. Often the problem when the ABS light comes on is a faulty wheel speed sensor.  (In some cases the traction control light will also come on, perhaps because of a non-working wheel speed sensor.) Your vehicle uses the speed sensors to measure the rotational speed at each wheel. That sensor sends the speed data to a computer that can then adjust braking power and prevent your wheels from locking up.  If any of the wheel speed sensors isn't working right, the ABS warning light will go on and the vehicle's computer will turn off the antilock brake system.  You'll s ... read more

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Brakes

For Brakes' Sake (Brake Rotor Service in Wilmington)

Think of how much abuse your brakes take. Day in and day out, they stop your vehicle when it's going fast and when it's going slow. Maybe your vehicle has been vibrating when you brake, or maybe it seems like your stopping distance is a little bit longer than it used to be. Then it's time to get your brakes checked out. After all, you have to be able to stop if you want to be safe. Nearly all newer vehicles have disc brakes on the front, and many have that type of brake on all four wheels. That makes it likely you'll be getting disc brakes fixed at some time in your vehicle's lifetime. Knowing how disc brakes work is as easy as riding a bicycle. If your bike had hand brakes, you'll probably remember a mechanism that squeezed a couple of pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you applied the brakes. Disc brakes are similar; but instead of the bike wheel, there's a metal disc instead. If that disc is warped or has irregularities in it, it's going to vibrate. It used to be that roto ... read more

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Brakes
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