Used brakes.

What happens when braking and common brake wear

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Stepping on the brake pedal is an action we often take without thinking about it. However, the braking process is made up of many steps.

What happens is determined by the type of brakes a vehicle uses – disc brakes or drum brakes.

Using the braking system

As we step on the brake pedal, a rod presses into the master cylinder. The result is pressurized brake fluid, which moves down the brake lines. 

On disc brakes, the fluid goes through the brake hoses and to the brake calipers, which are prompted to press the brake pads and rotors together. The friction that’s produced causes the car to stop.

Drum brakes, on the other hand, have brake hoses that link brake lines with a combination valve and wheel cylinders. The brake fluid encourages the wheel cylinder pistons to go out. This draws the brake shoes against the drum.

Common brake wear

Brake wear is bound to happen as your vehicle ages. Eventually, brake repair is needed or braking system components must be replaced. These parts include:

  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS) units
  • Brake calipers
  • Brake fluid
  • Brake hardware
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake lines
  • Brake pads and rotors
  • Wheel cylinders

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) units: The ABS makes sure that brakes don’t lock up during emergencies, allowing drivers to maintain control. Sometimes, hydraulic units can malfunction and keep a brake engaged.

Used brake caliper for Mini Cooper.
Used brake caliper

Brake calipers: Sometimes, new calipers are needed. Maybe they aren’t moving or are stuck in one position. That can either mean constant contact or no contact at all. You might also have to replace brake calipers if the bleeder won’t come free when servicing the brake fluid. The caliper slides could also get stuck inside the caliper. Broken boots on the piston and leaking from the pistons are common problems.

Dark brake fluid on a Land Rover.
Dark brake fluid

Brake fluid: Brake fluid prevents corrosion buildup on brake parts. Contaminants can eventually start collecting in the fluid, reducing its effectiveness. Brake fluid should regularly be replaced through brake fluid exchanges.

Brake hardware: Certain vehicles come with brake hardware, a metal part that can be found between the pad and caliper bracket. This spring tension component secures the brake pad so it doesn’t bang around. Brake hardware might break or get rusted. This may prevent the brake pad from sliding in the rail properly, and the pads could wear down prematurely.

Brake hoses: Brake hoses can leak and they can deteriorate from the inside out – due to corrosive brake fluid – which keeps the fluid from flowing into or out of the caliper.

Brake lines: These are hard lines that can leak or corrode.

Low brakes on Toyota Tacoma.
Low brakes

Brake pads and rotors: Brake pads and rotors are the components drivers normally think of when it comes to brake repair or brake replacement. When you step on the brake pedal, the front of a vehicle will nose dive, bringing most of the weight with it. Because front brakes handle much of the stopping capabilities, they tend to wear more quickly than rear brakes.

Wheel cylinders: Wheel cylinders on drum brakes can blow out and start leaking. This is the most common problem.

Many brake parts need to be serviced overtime. Taking care of this system and being watchful of any brake failure symptoms can help keep you safe during your travels. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dale City, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.