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Prepare Your Vehicle's Brakes for the Coming School Year

August 20, 2019

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.