A Lesson in Automotive Brake Systems

The brake systems in a car or truck are one of the most important to maintain. You might want to drive fast and far, but when you get to where you need to go, you want to stop safely. In this blog, we are going to break down the brake system, automotive brake repair, and look at some tips and strategies to keep your brake system safely stopping. 

Let’s first cover how the brakes in car function. The brake system stops and slows down the vehicle by applying friction onto the surface of the rotating mass. The rotating mass can be one of two types – either Drum Brake System or Disc Brake System – and it spins with the wheels of the car. 

On a Disc’s Brake system, there are two main parts, the brake pad and the brake rotor. On a Drum Brake system, the two main components are the brake drum and the brake shoes. These are the parts that make contact and slow the car. After making contact, the Brake Drum and or Brake Disc that is rotating with the wheel is slowed and…viola! The vehicle comes to a stop. 

How do brakes wear out?

Just as the sole of a shoe wears and becomes thin, so does the surface of the brakes. Most commonly, when the brakes wear out, the friction surface of the brake shoe or the surface of the brake pad has worn thin. 

Stop and go driving, towing, mountainous routes, and just general time and mileage, wear these surfaces.

How do I know when my brakes are bad?

In most modern vehicles, the first indicator is electronic. When the system becomes triggered, it provides you with a warning light on your dashboard. There is also a component referred to as a “squealer.” The squealer is a small thin piece of metal that, when exposed to the brake rotor through a worn pad, makes a very high-pitched noise letting you know your brakes are worn. 

Another indication may be something you feel when you brake. That can include brake pedal pulsation pushing back against your foot via the brake pedal while braking, also known as ‘Spongy Brakes.’  Other signs include shaking in the steering wheel or vibration in the body of the vehicle as you apply the brakes. Those sorts of signs usually indicate warped or damaged rotors and will immediately need to be inspected.

While many vehicles have an early warning system in place, proper and regular brake inspections are necessary to avoid costly repairs in the future. The best way to know what condition your brakes are is to have them inspected regularly. Having your brake inspection done at a regular interval and doing a little brake maintenance can keep you from spending more than needed in brake repair.

What can happen if I wait too long for brake repair?

When a brake pad or brake shoes wear out, and the friction material is too thin or worn away, it is too late. The hard steel backing plate of the brake pad or the steel rivets of the brake shoe digs into the rotor or drum and damage it. Worn parts can also damage the hydraulic components of the brake system by overextending the moving parts. The critical thing to remember is when you are proactive and perform regular brake maintenance and check-ups, it helps to avoid expensive brake repairs later.

How much does a brake job cost?

Brake jobs will have a wide array of costs. There are many many variables. Manufacturer, the type of driver you are, the distances you drive, etc.  So, answering that question in a blog is close to impossible. What we can tell you is the cost can range anywhere from fifty to thousands of dollars. It depends on your vehicle and the extent of the wear. Again, being proactive will help keep the costs down. The truth is you shouldn’t ever trust an estimate without an initial inspection.

Brake Repair at Casey’s Automotive in Sterling, Virginia

When considering an auto repair shop in Sterling, VA, you want the best mechanic in the area. The best automotive brake repair is one that is done safely and improves the quality of your car or truck. The best brake job is a complete service to the braking system, including the hydraulics, the moving parts, pins, slides, springs, calipers, mounting surfaces, and resetting electronic brake wear systems. The best brake job either replaces the rotors and drums or resurfaces them after accurately measured and inspected. If you’re looking for the best brake job, it starts with trust, both in your parts, your mechanic, and if you’re doing it yourself, you need to trust that you can do the job safely.

Make an appointment at Casey’s Automotive in Sterling, VA. Our team of certified technicians has got your brake system covered! 


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