What is Wrong With My Brakes?
The brakes are one of the most important parts of your vehicle and they go a long way to keep you safe behind the wheel. However, it’s often hard to determine whether the noises we hear our brakes making are the result of something simple, like air in the brake line, or if they are a warning sign of imminent brake failure.
Remember, when your service technician recommends any brake repair, it should be completed as soon as possible to avoid danger. Whether you need a simple brake inspection, brake replacement, brake pad replacement or work on the brake discs, brake pads or rotors, we can help. Our technicians are trained to work on specific makes and models, and our prices are often lower than you can find at an independent garage.
For a better idea of what could be causing your brake trouble, read on for answers to common brake questions.
Why are my brakes pulsing?
- If you experience a pulsing or jerking from the brake, it is far more likely that it was caused by a defect in the brake rotor or drum than from the anti-lock system. A warped rotor or out-of-round drum can cause pronounced pulsating in the brake pedal.
- The failure of the pad to retract is not uncommon. In older drum systems, the brake shoes are pulled back from the drum by strong springs. But in a disk brake system, the pads are pulled back from the rotor (or disc) by the resiliency of rubber seals. As these seals age or are damaged by contaminated brake fluid, they can fail to do their job. The result is that the pad will ride against the rotor and wear out prematurely.
- If your rotor is warped, it can cause the pad to wear out even without a failure of the rubber seal. A warped rotor will wobble as it rotates, thereby scraping the pad as it turns. Eventually the pad wears out and the metal backing plate will damage the metal rotor.
Why is the brake pedal sinking to the floor?
- If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal "sinks" toward the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak (in the brake hose) or a brake fluid leak. One telltale sign of a brake fluid leak is the presence of a small puddle of fluid when the car is parked. Brake fluid looks similar to fresh motor oil, but with a less "slimy" texture.
- Another possible problem is the master cylinder. The master cylinder's cup seals or the cylinder bore itself may be worn. Internal leaking or bypassing cup seals must be considered any time vehicles brake pedal is fading to the floor. This fading pedal with no external leak found is a common master cylinder symptom caused by these cup seals. The result will be a loss of hydraulic pressure. The vehicle will creep at stop lights as the brake pedal fades toward the floorboard.
Why are my brakes grinding?
- This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely. The grinding or growling noise is caused by the two pieces of metal (the disc and the caliper) rubbing together. This can "score" or scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, do not be surprised if your mechanic tells you that the brakes and rotors need to be "turned" (a process that evens out the rotor surface), or even replaced.
Why are my brakes vibrating?
- A vibration or pulsating brake pedal is often a symptom of warped rotors (but can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment). The vibration can feel similar to the feedback in the brake pedal during a panic stop in a vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes.
- It is a sign of warped rotors if the vibration occurs during braking situations when the anti-lock brakes are not engaged. Warped rotors are caused by severe braking for long periods, such as when driving down a steep mountain or when towing. Tremendous amounts of friction are created under these conditions, heating up the rotors and causing them to warp. The vibration is felt because the brake pads are not able to grab the surface evenly. If you drive in these conditions, make sure to stop periodically to allow your brakes to cool off.
How much does a brake job cost?
The cost of repairing your brakes depends largely on what is wrong with your brakes, and which garage you choose to have them repaired at. There are often costs associated with the initial inspection of your brakes, repairing the damaged brake system, and replacing brake parts. If your entire brake system needs to be replaced, this is commonly a more expensive procedure. It is a common myth that a dealership service department is more expensive than a private garage. However, at our service center we offer affordable and professional service performed by factory trained technicians. Contact us today to get started on your brake repair.
For many owners, brake repair and a brake change is something that is often overlooked. But keeping your brakes properly calibrated and in good working order can prevent costly repairs down the line, and, more importantly, help you avoid a collision.