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Brake Maintenance: Your Questions Answered

Posted on by Ron's Auto & RV
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Brakes are the most essential safety feature on a car and the first response to danger for even the best drivers. Any car with brake system issues is a potentially unsafe vehicle. Most issues only require maintenance or simple parts replacements, but extreme cases will necessitate repair.

Ron’s Automotive and RV in Vancouver is here to help provide symptoms of wear-and-tear and answer the many basic questions about brake inspection. Our brake repair experts are also available if your vehicle is in need of a safety inspection. If you already feel yours is in need of service, schedule online with our professional team.

When Do Car Brakes Need to Be Changed?

This depends on how and where a car collects its many miles over a lifetime. No two cars are the same and neither are any two miles. Cars driven over long stretches of highway miles do not wear as fast as a car collecting miles in the stop-start grind of traffic. If driven with a lead foot, parts will need replacing more often still. Best practice is to inspect them every six months. However, there are signs any operator can remember before or during use.

How Do I Test My Car Brakes?

According to NAPA Online, the best way to ensure brake maintenance is “[to be] observant as to how you’re using them.” Car brakes require observant use, you may not know anything is wrong with them largely until you start driving with them. A brake light should turn on when they are in need of service.

Inspect the brake system by looking into the wheel well and behind any hubcap and check the thickness of the brake pad inside the caliper, anything less than a quarter-inch requires immediate replacement. You can also test the system by pressing on the brake pedal. If they feel normal, test out the brakes on a short, slow drive. Avoid busy city streets or major roads and highways.

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A caliper fits over the disk and holds the pads in place on either side.

Worn brake pads are the most direct confirmation for scheduling a replacement/maintenance appointment. However, it requires some components and a bit of time on the ground peering behind the wheel to see if the pads are less than one-quarter inch thick.

Squealing and grinding is something you can test while driving (within reason). Regular occurrence of either is a good indicator that the either the brake disk or pads require maintenance or replacement.

A sudden change in direction when braking means that either a caliper is stuck, the pads have worn unevenly or a brake line is in need of repair.

Excessive vibrations in the drivers position also indicates the pads or disks need inspection and can locate where. A steering wheel that shivers upon use means the issue occurs in the front. If the seat is trembling upon use, then the issue occurs in the back wheels.

For more information, refer to our page on repair and installation.

How Should My Car Brakes Feel?

Car brakes should never make a sound when slowing down or coming to a complete stop. That sound is an indicator that the disks and pads are worn or that a foreign object is stuck in the caliper.

Braking should not provoke a change in direction.

The pedal should become progressively firmer as you press down. A lack of pressure in the pedal indicates a lack of hydraulic fluid and should be repaired as soon as possible.

Vibrations when braking can help locate the issue. It might not tell you exactly what is wrong with the car, but the source of the vibrations will give you an area to check.

What Can Cause Car Brakes to Fail?

Brake functions require brake fluid. Any loss of that hydraulic fluid or pressure can lead to a system failure and complete loss of control. In essence, say goodbye to that stop sign. The lack of either might indicate deeper issues with your ear. A bad brake cylinder means the fluid will not undergo enough compression to keep the system taut and responsive. Similarly, if a brake booster goes bad, the car cannot translate inputs into the appropriate stopping force for a moving vehicle. Suddenly the various taps and touches and presses will no longer effectively maintain or decelerate the car, comprising a brake failure. In other words, there goes that stop sign again.

Where Should I Get My Brakes Fixed in Vancouver?

At Ron’s Automotive and RV, of course! Located on the corner of NE Fourth Plain Blvd and 107th Ave, our professional team of mechanics and repair specialists are ready to diagnose and remedy any brake wear or other concerns. Schedule an appointment today online or give us a call at (360) 558-3150.

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