Saturday, August 2, 2014

Give Your Brakes a Break

Arguably the most important safety feature on any vehicle is the brakes. They saved you from running over that whole family of geese and from hitting the kid next door who has been learning to ride a bike without the training wheels.

Heck, they saved you last night when that huge tractor trailer slammed on their brakes right in front of you! Most other safety devices are really only there in case your brakes fail or you fail to use them in time.

Most modern cars have a type of brake system known as disc brakes on either two or all four of their wheels. When you press the brake pedal it prompts a set of heat resistant pads to grab on to the spinning rotor. The friction created with these brake pads slows down the rotor until it stops spinning and ends up bringing your car to a full stop.

Pressing the brake pads against the spinning rotor over and over again will eventually wear the pads down. Luckily, your vehicle provides several warning signs before your brakes reach the point of potential failure or extensive repair.

The easiest way to find out if your brakes need attention is by referring to the wear indicator. This is just a small piece of metal that was put in place strictly for the purpose of indicating when your brake pads are too worn down. This piece of metal is attached to the brake pads so that when they wear down far enough, the wear indicator actually makes contact with the spinning rotor.

When the brake pads are worn down to this level, pressing the brake causes a metal on metal grinding which produces a squeal. This sound is the most common indication that you need to bring your car in to a professional.

Since it is so important, your car will make it pretty obvious when it needs the brakes checked out or fixed. Whether it includes the squeal from the wear indicator or not, just using your senses is the best way to be aware of these potential problems.

Some things to look out for are the brake warning light, low or dirty brake fluid, and veering off to one side when braking. Also look out for either a pulsation or sponginess, and a grinding sound when actually applying the brake pedal.

Although there is no time or mileage established for when you should change your brake pads, it is ideal to just do it every time you rotate your tires. Or at least use that time to check out what condition they're in as brake system problems usually only escalate if disregarded.

Obviously wearing your brake pads down is a huge safety concern since your car isn't able to slow down and stop nearly as easily. But wearing down the pads all the way presents an even bigger problem, as the metal on metal causes damage to the actual rotor.

It is actually fairly cheap to have your brake pads replaced, even if you have to get all four of them changed at once. So it seems like a no brainer to keep this safety device in good working order. The alternative is to let further damage occur, and, if you're lucky enough not to get into an accident, end up spending a whole lot more to replace all your rotors as well.

Stay on top of the condition of your brakes to save you from much more expensive repairs down the line which will undoubtedly arise if you neglect to maintain them. And even more importantly so you don't find yourself driving with unresponsive brakes, resulting in a collision that could cost you your life!

If you notice any of these signs, don't hesitate to call Matthey Automotive at (856) 854-2507 or visit our shop at 100 W Crescent Blvd in Collingswood, NJ 08108.
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