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The Braking System

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Brake System

The braking system of your vehicle is not merely a combination of pedals and discs. It is a sophisticated network of components that work together to ensure the safety of you and your passengers while on the road. This month’s blog post looks at the complexities of braking systems, highlights common problems, and reviews vital maintenance practices to keep your brakes in optimal condition.

Components of the Braking System

  1. Master Cylinder: Serving as the central component of the braking system, the master cylinder propels hydraulic fluid from the reservoir into the brake lines. It regulates hydraulic pressure, enabling effective deceleration or halting of your vehicle. The presence of redundant cylinders guarantees safety even if one malfunctions.
  2. Brake Rotors (Disc Brakes): Each wheel is equipped with a brake rotor that rotates when the vehicle is moving. Upon pressing the brake pedal, the brake pads and calipers clamp onto the rotor, generating friction which slows down the wheel and consequently, the entire vehicle.
  3. Brake Pads and Calipers: The brake pads, situated against the rotor, generate the required friction. Calipers encase the pads and exert pressure to decelerate the spinning rotor.
  4. Brake Shoes and Drums (Drum Brakes): Certain economy vehicles still employ drum brakes at the rear. Brake shoes apply pressure against the rotating drum to generate friction and decelerate the vehicle.
  5. Brake Lines and Hoses: These conduits transport hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder to the calipers or wheel cylinders. Any leaks or obstructions can undermine braking efficiency.
  6. Brake Booster: This component enhances the force you apply to the brake pedal, facilitating easier braking. It ensures minimal effort is required to decelerate the vehicle.

Common Problems and Symptoms of Braking Systems

Below are some of the more common problems and symptoms of braking systems.

  • Soft Pedal: If your brake pedal feels spongy or necessitates excessive pressure, it could be indicative of:
    • Insufficient brake fluid
    • Air in the brake fluid
    • A malfunctioning master cylinder
    • Worn calipers or wheel cylinders
  • Brake Shudder/Pulsing: Distorted or bent brake rotors can cause vibrations during intense braking. It is crucial to address this issue promptly to prevent uneven wear.
  • Squealing/Howling/Squeaking Noise: High-frequency noises emanating from the brakes may be due to:
    • Worn brake pads
    • Glazed rotors
    • Contaminated brake linings
  • Pulling to One Side: An uneven braking force can cause your vehicle to swerve to the left or right. Check for:
    • Unevenly worn brake pads
    • Sticking calipers

Maintaining Your Braking System

  1. Regular Inspections: Engage a professional to inspect your brakes regularly. They can detect early signs of wear or malfunction.
  2. Fluid Level Check: Ensure the brake fluid reservoir maintains the correct level. Leaks or low fluid can compromise braking performance.
  3. Pad and Rotor Inspection: Monitor the thickness of brake pads and the condition of the rotor. Promptly replace worn pads to prevent damage to the rotors.
  4. Brake Fluid Replacement: Adhere to manufacturer recommendations for fluid changes. Fresh fluid guarantees optimal performance.
  5. Avoid Overheating: Excessive braking can cause the system to overheat. Allow time for cooling during prolonged descents or heavy braking.

Maintaining a well-functioning braking system is paramount for safety and optimal vehicle performance. Regular care ensures reliable stops and peace of mind on every journey.  To have your braking system inspected by a service professional, contact us at Best Western Transmission today.