There’s nothing more vital to your safety than the brakes & tires on your vehicle. Getting a routine brake inspection a couple times of year is always a great idea. YHS Automotive suggests checking your brakes every 7500 miles. With routine brake inspections you can catch minor brake problems before they turn into major brake problems that will cost you more money to repair.
Indications of Brake Problems
Your brakes will let you know when you have problems. In most cases you will hear a high pitched squealing or rubbing noise from the wheels. You may hear this noise with or without the brakes applied. Most manufactures have wear indicators on the brake pads. The wear indicator is designed to touch the brake rotor and squeal to let you know your brakes need to be serviced. When you hear the squealing/rubbing noise from your wheels without the brakes applied, that most likely is the wear indicator in full contact with the brake rotor. If you hear strange noises from your wheels it’s a good idea to get your brakes checked right away. It’s still a good idea to have your brakes checked even if that strange noise you heard a few days ago is gone. The wear indicator will eventually brake off the pad and the noise will go away. The next noise you will hear will be a horrible grinding noise. This means your brake pads and rotors have gone “Metal to Metal”. The brake pads have a friction material adhered to a metal backing. Most brake pads have 10mm to 12mm of friction material. The wear indicator hits the brake rotor when you have 2mm of friction material remaining. So when the friction material is gone the metal backing of the brake pad comes in contact with the brake rotor causing serious problems that often double the cost of a normal brake repair.
Vibration, Pulsating or Shimmy While Braking
If you feel your brake pedal pulsating, a steering wheel shimmy or a vibration while braking, most likely your brake rotors are warped. Brake rotors have 2 sides that are machined flat with ventilation in the center. The ventilated area is designed to help keep the rotor cool. With brake pads on each surface squeezing down on the rotor to make a vehicle stop, they get really hot! The heat will eventually distort the metal in the brake rotor causing warp-age. When the brake rotors are warped the machined surfaces are no longer flat causing pulsating brakes, shimmy in the steering wheel and vibration while braking. Rotors can be machined to correct the problem. Rotor thickness plays an important role when resurfacing the brake rotors. Brake rotors must first be measured to insure they are thick enough to resurface. If the brake rotor falls below the minimum thickness required by the manufacture it must be replaced. Having brake rotors below the minimum thickness is a safety hazard.
Low or Spongy Pedal
If your brake pedal doesn’t feel quite right, then you may have a problem with the hydraulic portion in your brake system. You may feel a soft or spongy pedal. Or, your brake pedal may go all the way down to the floor. The hydraulic system is a vital component to the brake system. It creates the pressure to squeeze the brake pads into the brake rotor to stop the vehicle. If you’re experiencing these symptoms check your brake fluid level and bring your car in for service right away.
Anti-Lock or ABS Light On
If your anti-lock brake light or your ABS light is on, that’s an indication that you have a problem with your vehicles anti-lock brake system. The anti-lock brake system consists of a computer controlled hydraulic pump/valves that when engaged controls hydraulic pressure to certain wheels under certain conditions. The anti-lock brake computer gets information from wheel speed sensors to determine how much hydraulic brake pressure to apply to the wheels. When the ABS light is on the system is bypassed to the normal brake system making the vehicle safe to drive in most cases. The anti-lock brake system is very complex and should be diagnosed by trained professionals.