For people who aren't mechanics, fixing brakes may seem like a simple job. Brake repair work comes in a wide variety of types, though. It can be helpful for drivers to know what the different kinds of repair jobs are and how to identify them. These are four of the most common ones a technician will encounter.
Presuming the driver routinely schedules maintenance, a professional should mostly need to replace the pads on a car. Fortunately, modern brake pads have small pieces of metal embedded in them. When the pad wears down past the acceptable limit, this will cause a squealing sound to let you know it's time to replace them. You may also notice that it takes longer to brake.
Drums or Discs
In addition to the pads, the main mechanical components that bring a vehicle to a stop are drums or discs. The pad presses against the disc or drum and that causes the axle to slow its spin and eventually stop.
People who regularly have the pads replaced should never have to pay attention to signs of trouble with the discs or drums. A technician will spot the problem when they do the pads. However, if the brakes feel especially grabby or emit a loud grinding sound, this is a sign your ride may need some attention right away.
Fluid Level and Lines
Vehicle brakes are basically closed systems. Consequently, issues with the brake lines often first appear as a low fluid level. Your vehicle has an indicator light on the dashboard that should tell you when the brake fluid level is down. Also, drivers will often see patches of fluid underneath their cars. Finally, the brake will get very soft and may go all the way to the floor. These are all signs the fluid level is low, and it may indicate that a line has failed, too.
Each wheel has a caliper that's there to apply pressure to the brake pads. When you press the brake pedal, this causes fluid to push into the caliper and activate the braking process.
A caliper problem is one of the trickier brake repair issues for a non-mechanic to figure out. Most of the symptoms of a faulty caliper are similar to losing brake fluid. However, a stuck caliper may cause noticeable grinding or grabbing. If the caliper is barely stuck for a bit after each brake press, you might only notice a slight drop in fuel economy.
If your brakes are acting up, reach out to a brake repair professional for help.