Things You Should Know About Brakes

v  Brakes are a fundamental part of your car’s safety equipment.  Properly maintaining your brakes can not only extend the life of your brakes but also help prevent accidents.

v  Every time you have your tires rotated, have your brakes checked as well.  Most service shops will do this already but ask to make sure and record the data (such as mm size of brake pads) in your Electronic Glove Box for easy access at a later date

Disc Brakes vs. Drum Brakes

Disc Brakes

·       Most commonly used brakes in vehicles today.

·       When brakes are applied, a caliper squeezes the “brake pads” against the rotor/disc, which is turning on the wheel/axle.  This squeeze creates friction and slows the wheel down.

·       The brake pads will wear down over time and must be replaced.  If not replaced timely, this may cause the rotor to be damaged, creating a much higher repair cost.

·       Disc brakes usually include a part called a wear indicator. A wear indicator is a small piece of metal attached to the brake pad that contacts the brake rotor when the pad material has been worn down to a certain level. When the wear indicator grinds against the rotor, it makes a squealing noise as you apply the brakes. This noise is a signal which tells you it's time to have your brakes examined….so if you hear a squealing noise when applying the brakes, have your brakes checked.

·       Replacing brake pads is generally not a difficult task and can easily be done at a tire rotation interval as the wheels must be off the vehicle to locate the brakes.

Drum Brakes

·       Wider cylinder with an open back

·       When brakes are applied, curved shoes located in the drum are pushed outward into the wheel slowing it down

Benefits of Disc Brakes over Drum Brakes

·       Dissipate heat better (brakes work by converting motion energy into heat energy)

·       Perform better in wet conditions because drum brakes can collect water in the drum while disc brakes fling the water away due to centrifugal force

·       Disc brakes will last longer over time and under severe usage (quick stops, long braking periods)

Brake Pads

·       Brake pads will wear out at different intervals for different vehicles, driving conditions and based on the type of brake pads used.  For instance if most driving is on the highway for long distances, the brake pads will last longer (more miles). For stop and go driving where the brakes are used more, the brake pads will wear down quicker.  Heavier vehicles take more braking power to stop versus smaller and lighter vehicles.  A general range for brake pad replacement is 20000 to 70000 miles and it is recommended that the brakes be inspected at least annually and with every tire rotation.

 

Brake Pad Thickness

·       New brake pads typically range in thickness from 9-12mm depending on the type of car and if they are for the front or back brakes. 

·       Your car’s manual will help you understand fully the size/type of brake pads for your car.

·       It is generally recommended that you should replace brake pads when they have worn down to 2- 3mm in thickness, again depending on your vehicle and driving conditions, so refer to your owner’s manual.

 

Types of Brake Pads

·       Organic – non-metallic fibers bound into composite material.  Treated with friction modifiers and complemented with fillers to reduce noise and heat.  Last the shortest amount of time.

·       Semimetallic – Mix of organic material and metals.  Harder and more resistant to heat.

·       Metallic – Variety of pressure bonded metals.  Almost obsolete due to organic and semimetallic brake pads

·       Synthetic - Made from a composite of non-organic and non-metallic material, usually fiberglass.  They weigh about half as much, last much longer, work better in cold and hot conditions, and they are much stronger.  These pads cost about twice as much as the other types.

Don't be intimidated by an auto service technician that is "trying to SELL you a service". 

Prepare and educate yourself to have an informed discussion at the Auto Service Shop.

Click here to learn more!