Brown's Alignment Auto Repair

Brake Repair / Brakes

Complete Brake Repair Services

Here at Brown’s Alignment, Brake & Auto Repair we have the equipment and experience to diagnose and repair your vehicles brake repair problems.   We can replace the brake pads and shoes in addition to resurfacing rotors and brake drums. We also service the brake hydraulic system including the brake calipers, wheel cylinders, brake hoses, metal brake lines, master cylinder and brake booster. We service most foreign and domestic cars and light trucks.

Here is some basic brake repair information to help you understand your vehicles brake system:

Brake System auto repair brakes

Brake Repair, Brakes

Most vehicles are designed with a disproportionate higher braking power applied to the front brakes as opposed to the rear. This will typically result in the front brakes wearing out faster than the rear. Common mileage on front brakes will range from 25 to 40 thousand miles and between 50 to 70 thousand for the rear brakes.

Brake Rotor :

Brake Rotor auto repair brakesReplacement has become a lot more commonplace in recent years as a result of two main trends. In an effort to reduce vehicle weight brake rotors are being manufactured thinner then in the past. In addition the composition of the brake pad itself has evolved from a relatively soft material to that of a harder, longer lasting material. As your rotors wear down the reduction in mass reduces its ability to absorb and dissipate braking generated heat. This process often leads to warped rotors with brake pulsation and steering wobble as classic warning signs.

The alternative to replacing the rotors during a brake repair is to turn or resurface the rotors. When doing this the technician puts the rotor on a brake lathe and shaves metal off to give the rotor a fresh flat surface. There is a minimum thickness a rotor can be for each type car. If the rotor is going to be below this thickness it is going to be recommended to replace them. Thin rotors are more prone to over heating and warping because they has less metal thickness to disperse heat.

Brake Pad:

Brake Pad auto repair brakesBrake pad replacement presents several choices to consider. At Brown’s Alignment we offer the original equipment pad produced by the manufacturer of your vehicle or an aftermarket brake pad/ shoe. There are many brands and variations of aftermarket pads available for most vehicles. The aftermarket products, in some cases tout additional benefits such as longer lasting, quieter, low dust etc. In many cases there is a trade off to achieve the claimed benefits. Extended pad life is a claim associated with some aftermarket ceramic pads for example. Extended life ceramic pads are often manufactured from harder materials which can result in increased wear on the vehicles rotors.

Brake Booster:

Brake repair - Brake Booster auto repair brakesYour brake booster is the component that is the “power” in your power brake system. It uses vacuum from the engine to increase the force of you depressing the brake pedal. This force is being applied to the brake master cylinder. Booster fails when it’s internal diaphragm goes bad. A hard to press brake pedal can be an indication of a bad booster.

Brake Master Cylinder:

Brake Master Cylinder brakesYour brake master cylinder is the brain of your vehicles hydraulic system. It receives its pressure or power from the booster and distributes the hydraulic brake fluid to all four wheels. Most master cylinders are designed with two circuits, one piston for the front wheels and one for the back wheels. The idea is if one section (say the rear brakes) develops a leak in the system the other section (the front brakes) will continue to work. When this happens the brake pedal goes lower to the floor. If the master cylinder completely fails you can lose your brakes.

***NOTE: It is a good idea to flush your brake fluid every 2 years. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning that it can absorb moisture over time. When you use your brakes they heat up and the accumulated water boils and turns to steam. Steam compresses more than water or brake fluid which causes your brake pedal to depress more than normal. This is why when you first start out driving the brake pedal may seem fine. But the more you drive the hotter the brakes and brake fluid become and if there is too much moisture in the fluid your brake pedal goes down lower or gets mushy.

Brake Caliper:

The calipers are part of the disc brake system. They house the brake pads and sit over top of the brake rotor. The caliper acts as a clamping device. When the brake pedal is depressed the hydraulic fluid forces a piston in the caliper to extend. When this happens the pads are pushed or clamped against the rotor which slows and stops the wheel from turning.Brake repair - Brake caliper assembly auto repair brakes

Drum Brakes:

Most vehicles have disc brakes on the front and many have a drum brake system on the rear. Although, more and more vehicles are going to a four wheel disc brake system. Drum brakes have shoes instead of pads. A metal cover known as the drum encases the brake shoes. Inside there is a hydraulic wheel cylinder. When the brake pedal is pressed the hydraulic fluid expands the wheel cylinder which pushes the shoes against the drum slowing the vehicle. A metal cover known as the drum encases the brake shoes.

Brake repair - Brake Drum Assembly brakes

Brake repair - Disc Brake setup brakes

Drum Brake                                                                                              Disc Brake

Brake Lines &Hoses:

Metal brake lines carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to each wheel. Metal lines connect to wheel cylinders in the drum brake. For disc brakes there is a rubber hose that connects the metal line to the caliper.

Common Brake system problems indicating brake repair is needed:

  • Worn brake pads – most pads have a metal sensor that rubs the rotor and makes a squeal or squeaking when the pads get worn to about 2-3 millimeters of life left.
  • Brake vibration, shaking or pulsation when applying the brake – occurs when the rotors have become warped, have an uneven surface. The brake pad is kind of skipping across the surface of the rotor.
  • Hard brake pedal or hard to stop – may be a brake booster problem
  • Soft or low brake pedal – Can be caused by low brake fluid which can be a result of worn brake pads or shoes or a leak in the brake system. The master cylinder may be failing or there may be air or moisture in the hydraulic system.
  • Wheel is smoking – brake caliper may be locked up or frozen meaning the brakes are constantly engaged.
  • Vehicle pulls one way when braking – Usually an indication of a caliper and or brake hose problem where one side is working and the other is not.

**Coming in to Brown’s Alignment for your regular maintenance will allow us to periodically check your brakes to make sure they stay in good working condition.

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