When it comes to safety, we check the brake first. The brake is responsible for stopping or slowing down your car. To understand the brake system, let’s break down the components that make it up.
Brake Pads: When you press your brake pedal, it pushes the lever. This lever then pushes a piston forcing hydraulic brake fluid to travel until it pushes another piston with a much-increased force. The second piston then pushes the brake pad towards the brake disc. The contact between the brake pad and brake disc rotor creates friction that slows down the wheels, which in turn stops the car.
After your car hits tens of thousands of miles, the brake will eventually wear. Worn brake pads can cause damage to other healthy parts like the brake disc rotor. A common sign that your brake pads need to be changed is when you hear noises like screeching, metal scraping, and rubbing that only get louder as the brake is used.
Disc Brakes: Disc brakes usually consist of brake pads, disk rotors and calipers. Disc brakes last longer because they are self-adjusting, self-cleaning, less affected by water, and less susceptible to overheating than drum brakes.
Master Cylinder: The master cylinder is a narrower cylinder that holds the hydraulic brake fluid. When you step on the brake pedal, brake fluid flows from the master cylinder through a thin pipe to another cylinder at the wheel, creating enough friction to make your car stop or slow down. Common problems include internal or external seals wearing out, and the brake liquid pressure dropping. Watch out for symptoms like brake fluid turning dark brown or black, abnormal brake pedal behavior and the warning light turning on.
Drum Brakes: Like disc brakes, drum brakes work with heat and friction to slow or stop a car. Drum brakes are smaller than disc brakes. But unlike disc brakes, drum brakes are susceptible to overheating but they are also cheaper in maintenance. One common sign that your drum brakes need servicing is the lack of firm resistance when braking. You will also notice that there is no drag feel.