Do Your Brakes Need Some TLC?

Do Your Brakes Need Some TLC?

There are times when your brakes need a little TLC.  Generally speaking, there will be definite indications that your brakes are getting needy. These can be noises, a funny feeling in the brake pedal, maybe other things.  In this article, we will look at some of the things that may indicate your brakes need your attention and should be checked out before any serious problems occur.

First, a few words on how your brakes function. Most cars today have disc brakes. These function in much the same way as the brakes on a bicycle does. When you squeeze the brakes on your 10-speed, a set of rubber pads grip both sides of the turning wheel rim and the resultant friction quickly slows down the bike.  It’s similar with a car except that instead of rubber pads, a hydraulic system filled with brake fluid squeezes the spinning rotors attached to each of your wheels with special brake pads.  In this case, the friction that occurs between the pads and metal rotors slows down your car.

The first thing to consider is that your  brake pads will eventually wear down need to be replaced.  What mechanics do is check the thickness of the brake pads to judge if that is the case. They should be some ¼ inch thick or more. If you have spoked rims on your car, you may be able to look through your wheel spokes and see yourself if the brake pads are in the ¼ inch or less range.

There is another indication that it may be time to have your brake pads replaced; a squeaking sound when you apply your brakes.  Many brake pad manufacturers put little metal tabs on their brake pads that make a very distinctive squeaking sound when their pads wear thin. This will occur when applying the brake, not during normal driving. If you hear that sound, and it can be loud, don’t panic.  Its just getting time to be seeing your local mechanic.

Then there is the “pulsing brake pedal”. If your brake pedal pulses when you step on the brakes, then you may have one or more things going on.  If your brake rotor is out-of-round or scored, your brake pedal may pulse back and forth.  You may also have a stuck piston in your brake caliper assembly or even a defective wheel bearing.  In any of these situations, it is best to have a good mechanic take a look.

A “mushy pedal”, one that goes practically to the floor before engaging the brakes, could indicate worn pads too but it is usually a problem with the hydraulic system itself, such as air in the brake line.  This usually requires a common procedure called “bleeding the brakes”.  Unless you are a skilled do-it-yourselfer, this is a procedure best left to professional mechanics. (Actually, most of this brake stuff is best left to a skilled mechanic.)

In general, you can stay out of trouble in regards to your car’s brake system by just keeping your eyes and ears open for issues that occur when you use them.  Today’s brake systems are quite robust and are designed to be failure resistant.  However, they will almost all need new brake pads and other fixes as you put on the miles.

Source: Caitlin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

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