Brakes are arguably the most important safety feature of your vehicle. They are also one of the most neglected. We regularly see cars come in with brakes that are not up to standards for driving safely. Some cars are downright scary. Here are some need to knows about your brake system.
Under the hood there is a reservoir that hold the hydraulic fluid for the braking system. This is a 100% sealed system. If that reservoir is ever low, it is an indication that there may be a problem with you your braking system. When the reservoir gets to a critical low point, it is designed to turn on a telltale light on your dash board or driver’s information center. If this light is on, do something about it.
Brake pads and rotors. There are many different manufactures of these components. Some are very inferior to the name brand parts. At Colorado Car Clinic we only use parts that meet or exceed the manufacturer design. Both Brake pads and Rotors are wear items and are designed to create friction and heat, causing these parts to wear out over time.
How do you know if your brake components are worn? Well, every time your vehicle visits Colorado Car Clinic, we will inspect the braking system. If we see, feel, or notice something of concern we will let you know. We will explain what is going on so that you are informed and educated. Other indicators are on your brake pads. If your car has disc brakes, there is a small metal tab called a wear indicator. As the pad wears down to what is referred to as the minimum thickness (often 2/32 of an inch) this tab will come in contact with your Brake Rotor/Disc, making a high pitch squealing sound. Many of you have heard this coming from other vehicles. Maybe even your own. When you do hear a squealing sound, you should stop by for a visit so we can inspect your braking system.
Brake Rotors/Disc can also indicate that there is a problem in the braking system. If it feels like the pedal is beating back on your foot when you apply your brake or your steering wheel shakes, this is likely due to a thickness variation and/or warpage in the brake rotors. Brake rotors are a machined surface with a very small tolerance window of .002 inch thickness variation. That is about the thickness of the hair on some of our heads (sorry, Bob). In extreme cases this pulsation can be a safety issue. As the pads vibrate you do not have the optimal control of you braking system. This can also affect the logic of your anti-lock brake system. Inferior rotors or machined rotors are a common cause. Rotors are not built like they were in the ‘70s. They are now designed thinner and lighter. When machined, they are now even thinner and will not dissipate heat causing rapid deterioration. That they will begin to pulsate sooner than good quality parts. Here at Colorado Car Clinic we do not machine rotors for that reason. We will always replace rotors with high quality parts. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please set up an appointment so that we can be sure you are safe on the road.
Here in Colorado we do experience issues that other states do not. With some simple tip we can overcome these normal brake issues.
We tend to get our brakes too hot as we are going downhill. This overheating can cause warpage in our rotors creating a pulsation. To prevent this, use a lower transmission gear downhill and shift the braking load to your engine and drive train. This will help moderate the speed of the vehicle, requiring less use of your brakes. Also, apply your brakes in short increments, allowing time for the parts to cool down between brake applications. Remembe—brakes stop our vehicles because of the friction that they create. Friction creates heat. Letting brakes cool is vital. Overheating also causes glazing on the rotors. This glazing will some time make a squealing noise. In most cases as you return to normal driving conditions they will wear back to normal.
We are so dry in this state that our brakes will build a dust. This too will make some noise. You can help prevent this by washing your car regularly. Most automatic car washes will get in to your brake parts just fine. Or you can simply run you garden hose and spray the water through your wheels. But please be sure that the brake system is cool.
SNOW AND ICE
On vehicles equipped with anti-lock brake systems (ABS), when stopping aggressively on snow or ice, you will experience a vibration in your brake pedal. This is a normal condition. A common reaction when this happens is to remove your foot from the brake pedal. That actually makes braking worse. Keep your foot on the brake pedal in this situation. The ABS system works by applying and releasing pressure to your brakes as it approaches a skid. This is preventing your vehicle from going into an uncontrollable slide. By pulsing the pressure on the brakes, the ABS system is allowing you to continue steering so that you can safely maneuver your vehicle. Remember be safe out there and drive according to conditions. Ice will sneak up on you.
Hopefully. Some of this information about brakes is useful to you. If you have other questions or concerns about your brakes, please call us today. We will be happy to talk with you and if needed set up an appointment for inspection. Remember your safety comes first here at Colorado Car Clinic.