When your automobile’s brake system needs repair, Mike's Auto Service Auto Body in Narragansett, Rhode Island will be there to diagnose the problem and see that your car is returned to safe and efficient operation. Your awareness of when routine maintenance is needed not only secures your safety, but saves you money in the long run.

Understanding Your Automobile’s Braking System

1Ordinarily, an automobile’s brake pedal causes the master cylinder to compress brake fluid, which pushes hydraulic pressure through brake lines, activating the brake pads (or shoes), which then make contact with spinning rotors (or drums), slowing down or stopping the vehicle. The typical anti-lock braking system includes wheel-speed sensors, a hydraulic control unit, and an electronic control unit. Sound complicated? It is. That’s why our trained mechanics are here to help you understand what’s wrong and correct the problem.


Checking your brake fluid and hydraulic system

This obvious maintenance issue is easy to overlook. Without a proper level of clean brake fluid, nothing about your brakes will work properly! Sometimes there is a leak or problem with the hydraulic system. A red brake warning light on your instrument panel may signify this problem. Mike's Auto Service Auto Body's routine brake system check up includes checking your brake fluid and your hydraulic system.

Maintaining your automobile’s brake pads

The most common brake problem is the need to replace brake pads (or shoes). Brake pads are buffers that prevent direct contact between metal parts. They can be composed of several different materials, but whatever they are made of, they wear down more and more each time you depress the brake pedal. If the pads wear down too much without being replaced, the metal housing will make contact with the metal rotors (or drums), wearing them down in turn. This means the brakes won’t work properly, producing a safety issue. You can’t stop easily, your car may veer to one side, causing you to lose control, or the brakes might lock up and cause a skid.

If the brake pads are not properly fitted, you may hear a squealing noise when you brake. This may require a simple adjustment or a replacement of the brake pad. If you hear a squealing noise that stops when you put on the brakes, this may be your car’s built-in brake warning device letting you know your front brake pads need attention.

1When there is any contaminant between the surfaces of the brake pads and the surfaces of the rotors or drums, such as dirt, rust, grease, water, or even leaking brake fluid, there will be a brake problem. If you drive often on dirt roads, it is important to have your brakes cleaned fairly often to prevent damage to the pads and thus to drums or rotors. This problem can result in your brakes grabbing when you depress the brake pedal.

So it is important to have brake pads replaced as needed. There are a variety of types of brake pads, some better than others, some more appropriate to one car than another. Relined brakes mean that you get old brake shoes with new friction material, so be sure you know what you are getting. Let us help you choose a brake pad that fits your car, has a good warranty, and will add long life to your braking system.

Maintaining your automobile’s rotors or drums

If the brake pads or shoes wear down, it will very shortly mean that you have the added expense of replacing damaged rotors (or drums) as well. If you hear a grinding noise from your braking system, this may well be the problem. Also, disc brake rotors can warp because of a number of reasons, and regular drums can warp as well; if your brake pedal pulses when stopping, this may be the reason. If your rotors or drums are not too badly damaged or warped, our mechanic may be able to repair the rotor or drum by machining it on a brake lathe to make it smooth again. But there is a legal limit to how much your auto braking system’s rotors or drums can be worn down or cut away before the rotors or drums have to be replaced. We will inspect your system and do what is necessary to maintain your safety, while keeping the expense in mind.

Maintaining the brake master cylinder

You can check the level of brake fluid at the master cylinder. There are usually two reservoirs to be checked, and both should be about half an inch from the top. If one chamber is low, you probably have a brake fluid loss. When it gets low enough, air is pumped into the hydraulic system, which can cause the brake pedal to feel spongy or seem to fade, sometimes completely to the floor, when you brake. A warning light on your instrument panel usually signals this problem. Air needs to be bled out of the hydraulic system and a repair or replacement of the master cylinder needs to take place. However, before replacing the master cylinder, our mechanic will check the brakes on all four wheels, the brake hoses and metal brake lines for leaks, for air in the system, and for rear brakes in need of adjustment.

Maintaining the parking brake

Cables that lock the brakes on the rear wheels, when the car’s gears are in park, can become worn or damaged by exposure to dirt, salt, and other things. Sometimes the cables won’t work at all, so that the parking brake will not apply, or it can seize up while you are driving, making it more difficult for the wheels to roll. There are built in safety features besides the parking brake, but it should be kept in good order.

A variety of other brake system problems

In short, there are a host of issues with an automobile’s brake system that can go dangerously wrong. Here are just a few other things we inspect for and repair or replace if necessary:

  • Power brakes have their own unique problems.
  • Wheel bearings sometimes need repacking.
  • Brake lines can become kinked, and hoses can break or leak.
  • You may have a defective power brake booster, low engine vacuum, worn brake linings, defective or misaligned calipers, defective proportioning valve, caliper anti-rattle springs missing, broken brake return springs .
  • Your warning light may be defective, stay on inappropriately or not come on at all, in which case it may be because you have a defective switch, or a part of dual circuit may be inoperative.
  • Differential pressure valve may not be centered
  • Tires may be out of balance or out of alignment.

It is important for you to respond immediately when the warning light on your automobile’s instrument panel tells you that there is something wrong with your brakes.

Most cars now come with ABS--Antilock Braking System. If, when you turn on the ignition, the ABS light stays on or flashes, or comes on while driving, it indicates a fault in the ABS system. Have your vehicle’s ABS system inspected immediately by our professionally trained technician to determine the source of the problem.

Any problem with your automobile braking system can result in a life or death situation for you and for others, so be sure to take care of routine maintenance on your brakes and have any needed inspection and repairs taken care of immediately here with us at Mike's Auto Service Auto Body.


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