A vehicle’s brakes are a critical safety element of any vehicle. Brakes are what slows, and stops, a vehicle; this is done through the application of friction. A bicycle brake is an excellent example of friction in action, you apply the brake and two pads press against the wheel, effectively slowing the bike. Automobile brakes work on the same principle; but of course, are more complex. Cars, pick-up trucks, vans, and SUVs basically use disc (disk) and/or drum brakes. It’s a good idea to have your brakes inspected along with your auto repair or even annually to make sure a brake repair is not needed.
Disc brakes are usually found on the front of vehicles, they are more sophisticated and effective than drum brakes. The main components of disc brakes are: brake rotor/disc, brake caliper, & brake pads.
Drum brakes are older technology, less costly, and less effective. They do however, work well as a parking brake. They are often put on the rear of vehicles as the majority of the braking work is done in the front. The main components of drum brakes are: drum, shoe, and pad.
Noise when using the brakes may indicate a need for an auto repair or brake repair or may be a normal part of that particular vehicle or the brakes on it. In addition to brakes making noise because things are rubbing that shouldn’t be, some brakes have a feature that causes them to howl when they are going bad. Unfortunately, some brakes are just noisy and it is considered normal. Ironically, sometimes the better (more effective and costlier) brakes make more noise than the less expensive brakes. If your brakes are generating noise and they do not require brake repair; but, the noise is distressing, there is hope. There are various noise suppression products available to help with inherently noisy brakes.
Parking Brake/Emergency Brake
Parking brake is something of a misnomer on vehicles with automatic transmissions. On vehicles with manual transmissions it is important to have a brake to prevent the vehicle from rolling. Vehicles with automatic transmissions are not prone to rolling.
Despite the fact that we rarely require a parking/emergency brake, it should be used periodically (every few months) for a number of reasons. Exercising the parking brake inhibits corrosion and seizing of the cables. It is a good way to insure that in an emergency it will work properly. In some situations, it aids in maintaining proper brake pedal tension.
POSSIBLE SIGNS OF BRAKE PROBLEMS
- Warning light on dash indicates brakes require repair. Have them checked promptly.
- Irregular feel to the way the vehicle is responding when brakes are applied
- Grabbing or pulling sensation in the steering wheel when the brakes are applied
- Vibration when brakes are applied
- Screeching or thumping sound when brakes are applied
- When stopped, the brake peddle requires more pressure to stay stopped or keeps moving down