Brake Questions -- Answered!
At Auto Express of Sacramento, CA, we occasionally see customers who have some questions about their brakes. We’d like to take a moment to clear up a few common questions and misconceptions about brake systems and brake performance:
Q: My brakes are noisy. Does that mean they need to be replaced?
A: Well, not necessarily. Brake noise isn’t uncommon, especially when braking hard or as the vehicle is almost coming to a stop. Some brands of brake pads and brake pad materials are more prone to noisy braking as the pads vibrate against the brake rotor. Most vehicles are designed with an anti-rattle clip on the backing of the brake pads; this clip should be replaced along with the pads, as it’s prone to metal fatigue. There are also special greases and compounds that can be applied to the backing plate of the pads to reduce noise. Often the noise will subside as the brakes begin to wear and break in. The sound you need to be worried about, however, is a metallic grinding or high-pitched squeal that could indicate seriously worn brakes. Many brake pads feature a spring-steel wear indicator that protrudes from the backing plate and is designed to rub on the rotor when the brake pads reach a certain minimum thickness.
Q: I sometimes hear a buzz when I apply the brakes and feel a slight vibration through the brake pedal. Is that something to worry about?
A: What you are experiencing could be your ABS system activating. Antilock brakes (ABS) use a system of sensors on each wheel, monitoring the wheel’s rotational speed. The sensors then inform a central processor that distributes braking effort to each wheel via a system of valves and pumps. If a sensor notes that one wheel is slowing down more and is in danger of locking up during a hard stop, the ABS system lessens braking effort to that wheel. Chances are the buzzing noise and sensation through the brake pedal are the result of the ABS pump at work.
Q: What are some signs of brake problems?
A: At least this is an easy question! These are all signs of worn brakes that will soon need to be replaced:
· Pulsating sensation through brake pedal, indicating a warped rotor
· Vehicle pulls to one side while braking
· Increased stopping distances
· Increased brake pedal travel before brakes engage
· Loud squeal, scraping or metallic grinding noise while braking
If you’re experiencing any of these, you’ll need to get your brakes serviced soon. If left too long, your brake pads will wear all the way down to their backing plates and rivets, which will soon cut grooves into the brake rotors. This is not only very dangerous, but it will soon cost you a lot more money for brake repair.
At Auto Express in Sacramento, CA, our automotive techs are trained and experienced in all aspects of brake repair. If you’re noticing that your brakes aren’t performing as well as they used to, don’t delay – call us and make an appointment before your brake repair gets a lot more expensive.