It won't be long before it's back-to-school time, which means drivers will need to be extra cautious approaching school crossing zones and flashing red school bus lights. One of the most important ways to prepare your vehicle for school traffic and pedestrians is to ensure the brakes are in tip-top shape.

Your car's braking system is more complicated than it might seem. Every component, whether it be brake pads, lines or rotors, undergoes wear and tear with everyday driving. Various things can go wrong with your car's braking system, and the average driver might not be able to diagnose the exact problem when their brakes fail. Our professional technicians at Creech Import Repair are experienced in diagnosing braking system problems. Here are some types of braking systems and what can potentially go wrong with them.

Disc Brakes

The disc braking system helps slow or stop the vehicle by pushing fluid into calipers that apply pressure to a piston that, in turn, squeezes pads, or rotors, that affect both the front and rear axles.

The rotating component of the disc braking system, the rotor or disc, can become damaged in several ways. Warped discs can result if the rotor's retaining bolts aren't evenly tightened. In addition, because most rotors are made of cast iron, they can be subject to excessive rusting, especially if the vehicle is in storage for a long period of time. When the vehicle comes out of storage, warping can also result. Another consequence of prolonged outdoor storage is brake failure that occurs when the piston fails to retract.

Drum Brakes

In place of disc brakes, some vehicles, including many heavy-duty trucks, feature a drum braking system. In this type of system, the pads or "shoes" press outward against a rotating cylindrical brake drum located on the rear axle. One disadvantage of drum brakes is the potential for overheating that's caused by repeated heavy braking. This can result in vibration, brake failure and a reduction in stopping power.

Parking Brakes

Also known as an emergency brake, a parking brake securely prevents a parked vehicle from moving. In a majority of vehicles, the emergency brake affects only the rear axle. Although modern automatic transmissions lock the wheels when you put the vehicle into park, cars must still be equipped with a working parking brake.

There are many common causes of parking brake failure. One issue is a worn or broken cable that has rusted or corroded, a result of infrequent use. Another cause of emergency brake failure is driving the vehicle with the brake engaged, which results in overheating and wearing of the brake pads.

Power Brake Boosters

A vital component of a vehicle's braking system, the power brake booster provides power to the system, which relieves the driver from needing to put excessive pressure on the brakes in order for them to work.

Symptoms of a failed brake booster include a brake pedal that's difficult to push, a longer stopping distance and a stalled engine that occurs when the booster draws too much vacuum from the engine.

Signs Your Brakes Need Repair

1. The brake light is on, which can occur when the parking brake has been left on.
2. Metallic sounds when braking can indicate worn brake pads.
3. Grinding sounds when braking can also indicate worn pads or possibly gravel lodged in the caliper unit.
4. A vibrating steering wheel when braking can indicate an uneven rotor.
5. A "soft" or "spongy" brake pedal can indicate air or moisture in the braking system.
6. If your vehicle pulls to the side when braking, it may be an issue with a faulty hose or caliper.
7. A wheel that emits smoke could mean a brake caliper might be stuck.

If you notice any of the above issues with your vehicle's braking system, let our professional technicians at Creech Import Repair inspect the system and diagnose the problem. We will then resolve the issue and help you make sure your car is safe for the school year. Contact our certified brake repair technicians today for an estimate.

Brake pad problems should never be ignored. There are many warning signs you need new pads. When your car starts making strange noises or you feel vibrations in your steering wheel or pedal, it's just a matter of time before your pads fail completely. About 5% of car accidents and nearly 30% of commercial truck accidents are caused by pad failure. Your pads are one of your vehicle's most important safety features, but the good news is your brake system will give you many warning signs that it's time to schedule brake replacement or repairs.

The following signs indicate your brakes are wearing out and reaching the end of their life.

1. Noises When Braking

Does your car make strange noises like ticking, clicking, squealing, rumbling, or grinding when you pads? These odd noises may be related to brake fluid loss, scored rotors, or worn-out pads, all of which need to be repaired soon.
If you hear a high-pitched screeching noise when you press on the pads, this is a clear sign that your pads are worn. Brake pads are made with a small metal shim or indicator that's designed to give you an audible warning when your brake pads are too worn. This noise should be loud enough to hear with the windows up.

The only time this high-pitched noise is not an indication of worn brakes is after your car is exposed to water. Moisture from rain, car wash, or driving through water can cause a very thin layer of rust on the rotors. This is very normal and you may hear a squealing noise for a while as the pads press on the rust. This sound will stop once the rust wears away.

If you hear a very loud growling or grinding noise, it likely means you have worn down the pads completely. The sound you hear is the metal disc and caliper rubbing together. This is a very serious problem because it can score the rotors and create an uneven surface. If you wear down the pads to the rotors, the rotors will need to be turned or replaced.

2. Vibrations When Braking

When you step on the brake pedal, do you feel vibrations in the steering wheel or the pedal? Pay attention to vibrations when you brake because this is your brake system telling you something is wrong. If you ignore these vibrations, your rotors may become warped from metal-on-metal rubbing. Along with posing a safety hazard, this will make repairs more expensive.

3. Reduced or Sensitive Pedal Response

As you step on the pedal, you should feel the pedal becoming progressively firmer as you press harder. The brake pedal should never feel soft or nearly touch the floor when you press on it. If you notice you need to press harder than usual to brake, your pads are likely wearing out. You may also experience a mushy brake that almost goes to the floor when you press on the pedal. A mushy pedal can be caused by air in the brake line or a fluid leak. In some cases, your brakes may grab very quickly at the slightest touch of the pad. This may be due to contaminated or dirty fluid or an unevenly worn rotor.

Sensitive brakes are a serious hazard. A mushy or sensitive pedal can make your brakes difficult to operate and put you at risk of an accident.

4. Car Pulls to One Side

Does your car pull to one side when you step on the brake pedal? This may mean your brakes need to be adjusted, you have a loss of fluid, or your pads are worn out. The pulling may be caused by a stuck caliper, in which case there is friction on one wheel but not the others, causing the car to pull toward the stuck caliper. A collapsed brake hose can also be responsible as it causes the calipers to move unevenly. Unevenly worn pads can also cause pulling by applying different amounts of pressure to the wheels.

5. Brake Pads Are Visibly Worn

Most cars have disc brakes that have a fluid-filled hydraulic system that triggers a pair of padded clamps or calipers. These calipers are squeezed together onto a disc or rotor. This causes friction to stop the car. Over time, this action causes the pads to wear away. You can check the thickness of your pads by checking between the spokes of your wheel. Once you spot the shiny rotor, look near the outer edge for the metal caliper. Between the caliper and rotor are the pads. In general, pads should be at least 1/4" thick. If your pads seem thin, it's time to get them replaced.

Don't let brake problems put you at risk of an accident. Make sure you have your pads inspected every six months for signs of wear and don't allow problems to get worse. Schedule brake inspection or repair services with Creech Import Repair if you notice any of these warning signs to ensure your vehicle remains safe to drive.

Car Suspension and Brakes Maintenance in Auto Service.

Brake Inspection - It should be pretty obvious to all drivers that brakes are an essential factor in making sure your car is safe to drive. But for some reason, all too many drivers are complacent about keeping up with brake repairs and preventive maintenance. Brake pads wear down relatively quickly (especially in automatic transmissions, which are far more common -- on the used car market, they outnumber manuals 10 to 1), and they need to be replaced before more extensive damage is caused to the brake rotors themselves. Brake fluid is also essential. A recent car maintenance survey found that 18% of vehicles had contaminated or low brake fluid. That can lead to total brake failure.

Brake Pad Service In Raleigh, NC

The good news is that the brake pad service doesn’t cost much. Also, there are often brake service specials throughout the year. If you are uncomfortable with the upfront cost, you need to remember that brake maintenance should cut down on brake repairs. And even the cost of brake repair is nothing compared to the costs, both financial and emotional, of a car accident.
How can you know if your brakes are in need of some attention? Here are seven signs the Car Care Council recommends looking out for:

  1. Noise: The brakes make any screeching, clicking or grinding noises when you apply pressure.
  2. Pulling: The car drifts to the right or left when you brake.
  3. Low Pedal: You have to push the pedal nearly to the floor before it engages.
  4. Hard Pedal: You have to apply a great deal of pressure to the pedal before the brakes engage.
  5. Grabbing: The brakes grab when you barely press on the pedal.
  6. Vibration: The brake pedal shakes, vibrates or pulsates even when you’re braking slowly and on a normal surface.
  7. Light On: The dashboard brake light is illuminated.

Even if you aren’t seeing any of these symptoms, brakes should always be part of your annual inspection. Car inspections are a modest cost. Also, when compared to your overall investment in your vehicle, and they can keep you safe and save you money in the long term. And since there are around 87,032 auto repair shops in the U.S., you really have no excuse for skipping preventive measures.
How often do you invest in brake maintenance or brake repair? Join the discussion in the comments.