Brake Servicing and Important Maintenance.

15/11/2019

Brake calipers, spongy brakes, brake pad wear, braking system, air bubble, brake rotors, master cylinder, pads and rotors, replace brake pads, brake fluid leak, drum brake, spongy brake pedal, brake pedal shuddering, noise when braking, grinding sound, brake issue, brake pads, disc brakes, grinding noise, brake pedal, brake fluid, air in the brake lines,

When talking about safety features, the brakes on your vehicle are absolutely the number one system we should care about. After all it’s the safety feature you use each and every single time you are behind the wheel. It’s absolutely critical that each and every component between you and the tyres making contact with the road are functioning at their best.

Disc brake rotor on a car being serviced

What parts make up the brake system?

One of the most important features in the brake system is called the Master Cylinder. This converts the brake pedal movement into hydraulic pressure. This pressure makes its way through the brake lines into a ‘slave’ cylinder in each corner of the vehicle. This slave exerts the pressure onto the brake pads.

Typically in small vehicles you will have two kinds of brake system. Disc brake or drum brake. In a disc brake setup, the pads are housed in a brake caliper and a pad on either side of a brake disc (or rotor) presses against the rotor with pressure supplied from the slave cylinder. This friction will act to slow the vehicle down.

In a drum brake, a similar effect occurs, however the brake pads press against the inside of a cylindrical hat (or drum). Both systems have their pros and cons, for example disc brakes are better at dissipating heat for high performance applications while drum brakes require less hydraulic pressure to achieve the same braking power.

In either case, there are several symptoms of a faulty brake system that we will look into in this article. If you live in Moorabbin or the surrounding areas and notice any of these symptoms, we recommend dropping into Grease Monkey Autowerx where one of our qualified technicians can assess your vehicle.

What can go wrong with your brakes?

At its core, a brake system in a car is designed to convert kinetic energy (momentum) into heat. At some point the brake system components are not able to absorb any more heat and you will experience something called ‘brake fade’. This is when the brake pad has exceeded its ideal operating temperature and the organic compounds in the brake gas are evaporating, turning into a gas that actually repels the pad from the rotor. The end result is a reduced and inconsistent braking performance. The good news is that when the brakes have had time to cool, brake performance usually goes back to normal.

In some instances when brake rotors or drums get far too hot they can become warped and misshapen. You’ll know when this has occurred because you will experience a vibration when braking and you may feel it through the steering wheel. The good news is that most modern rotors and drums can be machined back into tolerance, providing they still have enough thickness to perform as designed.

On a street driven vehicle overheating typically only occurs when towing or extended periods of braking while travelling down hill. Automatic cars are more susceptible to this as drivers in manual cars can stay in a lower gear and let the engine help maintain a constant speed.

Brake fluid reservoir showing fluid level markings and air-tight cap

At the heart of any brake system is the brake fluid. A specialised type of hydraulic fluid, designed to deal with extremely high pressures and temperatures. As the brake pads wear through normal use, the fluid level in the Master Cylinder reservoir will slowly drop. This is not a cause for alarm, however if the fluid level drops rapidly we highly recommend phoning up to get your vehicle inspected for brake fluid leaks. Do not drive your car if the fluid level is below the ‘low’ mark on your brake fluid reservoir as you may introduce air into the brake lines.

Please note there are several types of brake fluid, some of which are not compatible and can cause reactions if combined with the fluid already in your brake system. We always recommend using your manufacturers recommended fluid type. Brake fluid should be flushed and replaced from as soon as 18 months, depending on your driving habits and manufacturer recommendations.

Most vehicles have rubber brake lines. Over time these can degrade through exposure to air and high temperatures. This can occur without any external indications that the line is faulty, although the line may in some cases show bulges or cracks. However, under extra heavy braking, such as an emergency stop, these hoses can swell. This dramatically reduces the effectiveness of your brake system. One symptom of this is a ‘spongy’ brake pedal during heavy braking.

If your brake lines are over 6-8 years old we recommend giving us a call on (03) 9555 7352 to book your vehicle in for as assessment, or just mentioning it during your next service. Some modern cars, as well as cars designed for performance applications, can have a teflon and braided steel brake line. Ask us about ADR approved braided lines to suit your application.

In either type of brake setup, the brake pads as well as the rotors/drums are a consumable item. During normal use the brake pads will wear the quickest. Most disc brake pads will have a ‘squealer tab’ that alerts drivers when their pads are getting low. Drum brakes are slightly different. If you hear a metallic grinding noise when braking, this usually signifies your drum pads are very low and the brake system needs servicing. Be sure to replace the brake pads before the friction material wears away and you end up with metal-on-metal contact.

Brake pedal being used in automatic car

Get your brakes looked at.

In summary, if you notice any of the following symptoms, we recommend you get in touch and book into Grease Monkey Autowerx in Moorabbin as brake issues are a serious safety concern.

  • Brake pedal shuddering while braking
  • Brake pedal feels spongy, or a change in pedal feel.
  • Handbrake/park brake not holding properly.
  • Squealing or grinding sound when braking

For all your vehicle maintenance, logbook servicing, wheels, tyres and wheel alignment needs in Moorabbin and surrounding areas, Cheltenham, Mentone, Highett, Bentleigh, South Oakley, Brighton and Hampton, please get in contact with us at Grease Monkey Autowerx. We have qualified tyre fitters and trained technicians here ready to provide world-class customer service for you and your vehicle.

Grease Monkey Autowerx, 28/684-700 Frankston - Dandenong Rd, Carrum Downs VIC 3201

Ph: 03 7037 6211



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