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How to Inspect and Service Your Car Brakes When Necessary

Updated on August 14, 2011
how to take care of your car braking system
how to take care of your car braking system

Watch Out! You Are Probably About to Risk Your Life Because of Your Brakes…

Automakers do not manufacture brakes with various levels of safety for nothing. As a matter of fact, automakers produce each and every of those brakes in order to enhance your safety, either as a car passenger or as a car driver. Unfortunately, there are not few car owners out there that often take this matter for granted. As a result, they end up losing their life due to their own ignorance. This is why brake maintenance is of great importance.

On the other hand, even if the car owners are not so ignorant, it is still equally important to maintain the brakes regularly. This is because brakes will wear out over time. In fact, they will wear out even faster if the car often encounters heavy traffic conditions such as a traffic jam. Yet, because this is a gradual process, most car owners often do not realize that their brakes should already be replaced until it is too late.

If That’s So, How Should You Know It’s Time?

In most cases, problematic brakes will show numerous signs of malfunctioning. Squealing noise, vibration on the brake pedal, and soft pedal are a few to name. However, keep in mind that you won’t always have to change your entire brake. There are times when the problem with your brake is really isolated only to a single part of the brake. In this case, you won’t have to bother changing the other parts that still function as they should.

Relining your car brakes is a vital thing you will have to do if you want your car to last for years. However, it is not quite possible to tell a specific mileage interval at which you need to reline your car brakes. This is a sensible thing as brake wear varies accordingly to every single car driver. The way you drive your car, how you brake, your vehicle weight, and your car braking system design along with plenty of other variables all determine when you will have to reline your car brakes.

However, you can keep one thing in mind. The brakes at the front of your car will almost certainly wear out prior to the wearing out of the brakes at the rear of your car. The front brakes are normally in charge of handling more braking load percentage compared to the rear brakes. This is even more obvious in the case of minivans and cars that utilize Front Wheel Drive (FWD) drivetrain.

With that being said, there is an advantage you can expect. If you are quite sure that the rear brakes of your car – assuming it’s either a minivan or an FWD car – are still in good working order, you can just get the front brakes of your car replaced or serviced. This way, you can set some of your money aside for your other purposes. Yet, always remember that you can’t do this should your rear brakes are showing some sorts of malfunctioning.

But Do You Know Which Parts of Your Brakes Are Usually Replaced or Serviced?

Brake jobs normally include putting new front brake pads in place of the old ones, changing the rear drum brake shoes with new ones, resurfacing the discs of the brakes, putting in new brake fluid (also known as bleeding the brake lines), and also checking the braking system for any possible leakages as well as other problems which may lead to additional repairs. Adjusting the brakes necessarily is often necessary as well.

In worst cases, it may even be necessary to put in new hardware for the brake drums in addition to replacing or rebuilding the calipers and the cylinders of the wheel. Unfortunately, this often requires you to spend more of your money. Therefore, the mechanic will usually – and in fact they should – inform you in advance.

Replacing the hardware may also include replacing hold-down springs, return springs, bushings, pins, or other retainers or clips that you can usually find in the drum brakes of your car.

Another thing you should be aware of is that springs lose tension due to aging or being exposed to heat. Thus, plenty of experts recommend purchasing new hardware while relining the drum brakes. This is meant to obtain the normal braking action again. After all, if you insist on reusing the weak springs, chances are the brake shoes will get dragged against the brake drums. As a result, probable overheat, accelerated shoe wear, and also probable brake drum damage may occur.

Resurfacing the Brake Discs? Why Is It Necessary?

Well, as a matter of fact, it is not always necessary. If the brake discs and drums are pretty flat and smooth without any noticeable distortion, cracks, scoring or other damages, you don’t have to resurface the brake discs. After all, resurfacing your brake discs too often will decrease the thickness of the discs and result in a shortened lifespan of the brakes.

So, When Is It Time to Resurface the Brake Discs Then?

It will depend on two conditions, the surface conditions and the brake discs warping.

Surface Condition

If the surface condition suffers from pitting, scoring, or any other imperfections, resurfacing should be carried out. The same goes for squealing brakes.

Brake Discs Warping

Brake pedal may shudder or pulsate during use if the spots on either disc face are uneven or the disc thickness varies. You can check your brake flatness by simply putting a straight edge facing against both disc faces. If there are hard spots on the discs or if the discs are indeed warped, they should be replaced or, at least, resurfaced. You can tell the discs have hard spots if they have either discolored blue or black. Also, keep in mind that hard spots which occur due to overheat or the lug nuts being tightened unevenly may often raise surface areas that extend the surface below.


After all being said, one last thing you should not miss is that it is not always preferable to choose the more economical brake parts. Right, you may feel relieved at the beginning. However, they are not likely to give you pure satisfaction. Lower grade brake pads are not usually as durable as those with the better quality. In addition to that, they tend to fade quickly enough when forced to work under high temperature. As a result, your car may need farther distance in order to come to a complete standstill. That said, it is recommended that you go for the brakes with brands that are already recognized for their parts will serve you better – well, of course, unless you think that your safety is not more important than your hard-earned money.


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      RichBest 5 years ago

      Sure thing, samathayoung. :) Better safe than sorry.

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      samathayoung 5 years ago

      I agree. When choosing a brake, you should consider its brand.