Car ?’s- What are the Main Brake Components and Maintenance for Them?

July 8th, 2014 by

To get started, let us just say this is an overview of your car’s brake components and maintenance and is not an exhaustive guide but a reference to provide you with a foundation of knowledge about how your car stops. In a basic sense, your vehicles brakes are composed of 5 parts: the master cylinder, brake lines, calipers, pads and rotors.
The master cylinder is what connects to and reacts to your brake pedal. When you apply pressure to your brake pedal, the master cylinder works hydraulically to send fluid through the brake lines to the brake assembly. Any brake issue inspection should start with the master cylinder and brake lines as they are completely essential to proper brake function. Since fluid is pushed through the brake lines, they should be inspected for damage, cracks, or leaks and the seals at each end should be inspected for any signs of leakage. Brake fluid should also be inspected to make sure it is clean. An easy way to remember this inspection is, at every oil change, ask the service technician to inspect the brake fluid. Manufacturer’s generally recommend that brake fluid is replaced every 20,000 to 25,000 miles but this is dependent on your specific vehicle and your driving style so it can vary from car to car.
If all of the aspects of the master cylinder and brake lines are functioning properly, next you should inspect the brake assembly. The assembly in each wheel, we will be talking specifically about disc brakes, is predominantly composed of the rotor, caliper and pads. The rotor is basically a metal disc that is fixed to the vehicle’s wheel, its function is that if it is stopped, then so is the wheel and the car. The rotor has a caliper attached to it that hangs around it without making contact. Brake pads are attached inside each side of the caliper. When the brake pedal is pressed and the master cylinder sends fluid through the lines and that forces the calipers to pinch the pads onto the rotors to create friction to stop the car.
It is important to inspect your calipers and rotors, but most often, you’ll be inspecting and replacing your brake pads. Keeping up with the maintenance on your brake pads will minimize the chance of issues with your caliper and rotor, which can be costly repairs. Brake pad inspection and replacement is made simple by manufacturers’ to limit the need for repairs to the other parts. Brake pads wear down over time and need to be replaced before they get too low. The majority of brake pads have a component to them which produces a squealing sound when they are getting too low and you apply the brake. If allowed to wear down too much, they can become uneven which results in less stopping ability and can damage the rotor. The general thought is to inspect your brake pads just about every 12,000 miles. Typically, pads need replacement when they are worn down to 1/8 inch or less, which is marked on the pad and when it will start making a squealing sound. Inspect the pads and go from there but they are usually recommended for replacement every 25,000 miles. This like all car maintenance, depends on you model of vehicle and your specific driving style.
We hope you found this overview of you brakes to provide you with a solid foundation for how your brakes function and how to maintain them. If you have any questions, leave a reply below!
Brake Fluid: Generally replaced every 20,000-25,000 miles but have it inspected at every oil change
Brake Pads: Replace to prevent damage to other brake components. Inspect every 12,000 miles and generally replace every 25,000 miles.