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Brake Service: How Professional Brake Inspections Keep Your Family Safe

One of your vehicle’s most important safety systems is one you use every time you get behind the wheel: your brakes. They convert massive amounts of energy generated by a vehicle in motion into heat to stop your car.

Regular inspections and maintenance of your vehicle’s braking system are critical to ensuring peace of mind that it will work all the time. Keep reading for our expert tips on maintaining your car’s braking system!

Brake Repair Surrey

How Brake Systems Work

Most believe the main parts that get worn on a brake system are the brake pads that clamp down on rotors (discs). Older-style vehicles and some commercial applications employ drum brake systems, where brake shoes are pushed out into a brake drum.

But, that’s not all! Your brake system also has an entire hydraulic fluid system! When you press the brake pedal in your vehicle, it depresses a piston in a master cylinder. This forces hydraulic fluid along brake lines and hoses with great power to less-frequently replaced brake calipers and/or wheel cylinders, which then apply the brakes on your car.

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Your vehicle braking system also has parking brake and anti-lock brake (ABS) safety systems, which encompass cables, parking brake shoes, and sensors, to name a few related components. These all work hard together to stop your car!

Signs Your Brakes May Be Worn

If you identify worn brakes before they get too thin, you can save yourself from damage to your vehicle and brake failure. Here are a few signs your brakes may be worn and need replacing or repair:

  • Unusual Noises – If your brakes make screeching, grinding, or squealing noises, have them checked! Squealer tabs or increased noises as the brakes get thin are often an early sign brakes need to be inspected;
  • Softer or Sinking Brake Pedal – If you have to press down harder to brake, a brake fluid leak or drum brake adjustment (if applicable) issue is very possible;
  • The Car Pulls to One Side When Braking – A car pulling more to one side or overheating brakes can indicate seized brakes at one corner of the car;
  • Brake Pedal Vibrations – Shuddering on braking could indicate worn and warped brake rotors, which decrease braking performance;
  • Burning Smells After Driving – Seizing brakes can cause severe and sudden brake wear, also resulting in burnt brake material that smells really, really bad!

What Does a Detailed Brake Inspection Include?

During a dedicated brake inspection, your technician will do a visual inspection of your vehicle first and then perform a short test drive to check for any usual noises, vibrations, or smells when braking. A more thorough assessment then takes place on the hoist, with the wheels removed and brakes measured. Often this includes checking the following for damage, wear, leaks, or cracks:

  • Brake friction material: Brake pads and/or brake shoes
  • Brake rotors (discs) and/or brake drums
  • Brake calipers and sliding surfaces
  • Brake wheel cylinders (if applicable)
  • Brake fluid condition
  • Brake hydraulic hoses and hard lines
  • Any ABS warnings or faults in computer modules
  • ABS wheel speed sensors and wiring
  • Parking brake system and adjustment

Your digital vehicle inspection report will indicate the health of your brake system and recommend when additional servicing or replacement may be needed so you can plan for this future service.

Understanding Brake Inspection Reports

Your brake report will include an assessment of the brakes on all four wheels. It will indicate how many millimetres remain on your brake pads and the “health” of each one using a green-yellow-red scale (green being good, red being concerning). We recommend replacing the front brake pads at around 3mm and the rear pads closer to 2mm.

Brake rotor thickness can be measured, but wear and warping issues usually leave visible marks and rusted ridges that are obvious. Rotors and pads are always recommended to ensure proper material mating and performance. We do not recommend machining or leaving rotors as-is.

Brake fluid, lines, and hoses are checked for leaks and condition of the fluid. Fluid level and condition are critical for the system to work properly, and brake fluid should be a clear, golden colour with little moisture content.

How to Avoid Excessive Wear on Your Brake System

Your driving habits and style can impact how quickly your vehicle braking system wears and parts need replacing. Here are our top 3 tips to avoid excessive wear on your brakes:

  • Be Gentle – Hard braking can cause excessive wear on your brakes. Try to brake slowly rather than hard and fast whenever possible. The higher the speed at which hard braking is done, the quicker the brakes wear down;
  • Carry Only What You Need – Extra weight means your brakes work harder to stop the car. Overloading a vehicle can also cause premature wear in suspension and tires;
  • Drive in Better Weather – While it can’t always be avoided, driving in very cold or very hot weather also causes brake concerns. Cold and icy weather can be hazardous in general, especially if inadequate tires are mounted, and at very hot temperatures brake fluid can start to boil, causing reduced brake performance. Also, if you drive in very wet conditions, give yourself more time for gradual braking whenever possible.

How to Book a Brake Inspection

Professional brake inspections, maintenance, and servicing give you peace of mind knowing this vital safety system works optimally. This will help you avoid premature wear on your brake system and also save you money in the long run

At Visscher-Pau Automotive, we perform detailed brake system assessments and send you the results in a digital vehicle inspection report. We’ll let you know what maintenance or repairs are needed now, and which can wait so you can budget for them.

For over 37 years, we’ve been your trusted local automotive repair shop, serving families and fleet businesses in Cloverdale, Langley, and Surrey. We’re dedicated to transparent service and education, helping you understand what your vehicle needs and, more importantly, why it needs them.

Book your brake inspection and digital vehicle inspection report with the experienced team at Visscher-Pau Automotive today!