Brake System – Auto Repair Metairie

Brakes are one of the most important components of your car. Having smooth and proper brake functioning is absolutely necessary for a car’s safety and comfort. So if your brakes are having problems you need to be proactive and bring your car to a trained mechanic to have you brakes repaired without any delay.

What is a Brake?

It is a car part made up of various components that interact with each other to slow down your car by applying friction on the tires. And in return the tires transmit that friction on to the road, thus slowing or pulling your car to a stop. A dysfunctional brake system would mean that one or more of its components is not working effectively. This can be very dangerous and annoying to everyone on the road.

Here are the most common brake system problems our trained & certified technicians can diagnose, repair and service:

  • Pad Replacement
  • Lining Replacement
  • Hose Replacement
  • Line Replacement
  • Wheel Cylinders
  • Master Cylinders
  • Emergency Brakes
  • Brake Drums

By following these preventative steps religiously, you should be able to avoid major problems that are often caused by common brake problems that are ignored or repaired.

  • Get your car checked out by a trained and certified mechanic once every six months, regardless of problems or not. Keeping your machine well oiled will only help increase its lifespan.
  • Check on the brake fluid regularly. Most problems begin with this component.
  • If you know your brakes have a problem, avoid driving you car until the problem is fixed.
  • When you take your car to a mechanic, describe any issues in detail that you are having with regards to you vehicle, including every squeak and sound.
  • One great method to test your car without taking it to a mechanic, is to test-drive it very slowly and to let any of the hitches to act up. This will help you to double check if there is a problem at all and it will avoid running up a huge bill for just a minor check.

Remember these steps are to ensure that you are aware of your vehicles condition and you can talk to your mechanic intelligently about your vehicle, which in the end will save you a lot of money.

Pad Replacement

To ensure brake performance, it is important that the pads function at optimum levels. Brakes fail when the pads are worn out and need replacement. And since brake pads are highly susceptible to wear and tear, they have to be checked and replaced regularly.

You can get a view of them from outside the front tire, by looking through the opening between the wheel and its rim and you would see the pad pressed to the shiny rotor made of metal. Now to determine the damage, first check the depth of the pad. If it is less than ¼ inch, then it needs replacing soon. However, if it is less than 1/8 inch, then you’re very close to damaging the rotor as well.

This is just the visual aspect of checking. To ascertain their state, use your sense of hearing. If you hear a squeaking sound, like a trapped mouse trying to escape, then the pads are nearing failure. However, if you hear the screeching of a metal then that means you’ve already damaged the rotors.

Always remember the basic rule when it comes to automobile mechanism – better to be safe than sorry, which can result in unsafe driving conditions and expensive repairs.

Lining Replacement

A brake lining is that portion of the system that creates the heat required to stop the car. Since it is prone to very high temperatures, the lining will have the capability to withstand heat for a longer period of time, therefore it is more susceptible to wearing out.

How do you know that it is the lining that’s the problem? If, every time you step on the brakes, it makes an annoying squealing sound, that is the typical warning sound to change the pads, the lining and usually the rotor too. And if left unattended, complete damage is the typical end result.

Heat is not the only culprit; other reasons for breakage include. The lining may also become corrupt due to leakage of oil or break fluid, you will know this if your brakes will start vibrating and make a chattering noise. The best solution for this is to replace the source of decay, the damaged pads and the lining. Usually when you’re changing one of the pads, the mechanic may also ask you to change the other one. This is because the lining thickness is usually different which can also cause uneven braking.

Another thing to keep in mind when going for a replacement is that the pads installed by your mechanic are as specified or supplied by the manufacturer of the automobile. This is because it comes with a lifetime warranty and has a harder lining than traditional brake pads and therefore does not lead to excessive wear and tear of the drums and the rotor.

Hose Replacement

A hose is the flexible part of that rigid brake line which allows the front wheels of your car to move freely as you steer your vehicle. It also aids in the up and down motion of the car’s rear wheels. Basically, it attaches the brake line to the calipers of the wheels.

A hose may have become faulty and needs to be replaced if, there are visible cracks, damage or leaks, there was faulty manufacturing or the hose is blocked internally by dry rot or contaminated brake fluid.

This is often not clear so the other visible signs that the hose maybe the problem if:

  • Braking is uneven, your car pulls right or left when stepping on the brake pedal
  • You feel like something is being dragged while the car is moving.

If you experience these problems you must get the hose replaced immediately, because if your hose is extremely damaged, it is possible that your car will not stop at all despite the feeling that you have applied the brakes normally.

Line Replacement

Most vehicles function with the help of hydraulic braking systems. In other words, when you apply pressure on the brake pedal, the fluid which is stored in the master cylinder flows to the brakes and the car halts. The fluid flows through many hoses and metal tubes and these hoses and metal tubes are called as brake lines.

These parts may seem like small ones but you need to make sure that they are in a good condition. In case the tubes and hoses are cracked, brittle, frayed or corroded then it could lead to fluid leakage. These lines get worn out because of constant rubbing against the metal parts of your car. Look out for any leaks before driving your car as it may lead to total brake failure.

Any leaks should be dealt immediately. However, if you are unable to fix it, then it is recommended to get your car towed to a nearby service station. Avoid trying to replace the brake lines on your own, unless you are a competent mechanic, as a single point failure may lead to a total loss.

Wheel Cylinders

When the brake pedal is pushed, hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder pushes the two pistons inside each wheel cylinder and forces the brake shoes against the drums to stop the car. When you release the brake pedal, return springs pull the shoes away from the drums and push the wheel cylinder pistons back into their bores.

The wheel cylinders are an important component of the drum brake system. They are prone to wear and tear with continuous usage and tend to start leaking after a period of time. It is very important to replace them when they start leaking because the brake force diminishes and in extreme cases, the brakes may stop functioning all together.

Sticking is another problem that you may face with a wheel cylinder. Dirt or corrosion may sometimes cause the piston to get stuck in the bore. If this happens, the brake may not release and it may cause the shoe to drag.

Warning signs you have problems with your wheel cylinders if:

  • the pedal is lower than usual
  • the pedal slowly sinks as you try holding it
  • Your brakes screech

Once the leakage begins, you are left with just two options, either replace it or rebuild it. Both require very little work. It is usually easier and faster to simply replace it. In some cases the opening may be impossible for rebuilding because of a faulty bleeder screw. Rebuilding is easy but takes longer than replacement.

Master Cylinders

The brake systems of all the modern cars are broken into two circuits in an attempt to increase your safety. These circuits control two wheels each. This is to ensure that in case of a fluid leak in one circuit; only two wheels will lose their brakes. You will be able to stop your car when you press the brake pedal.

The master cylinder is the most important part of any automobile because it supplies pressure to both the circuits of your car and also controls the physical pressure that is applied on the brake. It converts the pressure applied into hydraulic pressure to enable other parts to function. The brake and the clutch are the two parts, which make maximum use of this part.

Whenever there is a leak in the first circuit, the pressure between the primary and secondary cylinders is lost. The primary cylinder then tries to contact the secondary. By now, the master behaves as if it has only one piston. The second circuit will function normally, but you will have to press the pedal harder to activate it. Since only two wheels have pressure, the braking power of your car will be severely reduced.

If you are experiencing these warning signs, then you need to consult a qualified service technician immediately as it indicates a failing cylinder:

  • If you find puddles of brake fluid under your vehicle
  • If you experience a soft or spongy brake pedal

The master cylinder ensures high performance of your vehicle. In order to maintain a powerful brake system, you need to check your brake’s master cylinder once in every six months. This will help you prevent any brake failure risks.

Emergency Brakes

The main function of emergency brake is to keep your vehicle stationary. It is a back-up system that can be used if you ever experience total brake failure. Used commonly while parking, especially on a hill because it will prevent your car from rolling away.

To activate it, all you need to do is simply pull the lever up. There are steel cables attached to the part that control the rear wheels. On pulling the lever, the cables are tightened and in turn the brake shoes in contact with the drum brakes are pulled. As a result, your car comes to a halt.

The emergency brake has a self-locking system which means you need to adjust the brake manually in order for your vehicle to stop. In case of an emergency you need to remember adjust the brake slowly to avoid spinning out.

If you’re unable to release the brake completely it indicates that the part is faulty and needs to be checked by a technician.

The emergency brake works mechanically and does not involve any hydraulic system, which controls other brakes. Just like other brake parts, the emergency brake needs to be checked regularly to ensure that it is in a good working condition.

Brake Drums

While driving it is important is having control over the car and this is the main reason why most of the car manufacturers prefer brake drums as they function more like disc brakes. On pressing the pedal, a fluid is pushed through the hydraulic lines into the brake drums compelling your car to come to a grinding halt. This also helps during times of emergency.

In many cars, these are connected to the rear wheels and the disc brakes to the front. Brake drums are difficult to service as it involves many parts.

Brake Drums are made up of two brake shoes and a piston, an adjuster mechanism which involves an emergency brake mechanism and a whole lot of springs. When you hit the pedal, the piston pushes the shoes against the drum and the car stops.

In other words, when the shoes hit the drum, there is an effect of the shoes pressing into the drum with some extra force. This extra force allows them to use a smaller piston. In this action, the shoes need to be pulled back from the drum when the brakes are released. This action is what makes the springs perform.

There are some other springs, which help in holding the shoes in place and return the adjuster arm. It is essential to keep this part under constant check in order to avoid potential failure. If these parts cease to work, you need to understand that it’s time to replace them.

The shoes of the drums are what undergoes the most wear and tear and therefore requires replacement most of the times. The shoes are attached to the wheel cylinder, a metal backing plate, which supports a compressed shoe. When this part wears down, there is an increase in the clearance between the shoe and the drum. As a result, they are less effective while stopping the vehicle.

You do not need to replace the shoes until they are worn down to 0.8 mm. Until then you only need to adjust them. Old ones require manual adjustment, but new ones have self-adjusting systems. This system is made up of the following components:

  • Pivot Nut
  • Brake Adjuster
  • Adjuster Mechanism
  • Brake Cylinder
  • Parking Link
  • Primary and Secondary Brake Shoes
  • Adjusting Lever

New Orleans Auto Repair also known as C.A.R.S has been handling New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, and Harahan automotive and car care needs since 1981. Voted best car care service in Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish.

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