Hello Bakersfield, let's talk about brakes. Braking, as all Bakersfield drivers know, is slowing or stopping a vehicle. As you can imagine, brakes are engineered to work well on a particular vehicle application. For example, you would expect more powerful brakes on a heavy-duty pickup that routinely hauls big loads and pulls trailers, than you would on a compact car. And a Corvette that can go over 180 miles per hour would have much different braking needs than the family mini-van you drive around Bakersfield.
But the mechanical aspects of the brakes themselves are just one issue. There’s also the power brake pump and brake fluid. And then there are the tires, which are critical to the effectiveness of the brakes.
Let’s step back. A new SUV or truck rolls off a local Bakersfield dealer showroom floor. It has brand new brakes with brand new brake pads. The brake lines and pump are filled with fresh fluid and are completely clean inside. And the tires are brand new, with full tread.
Naturally, braking power is at its peak performance. Now the miles start to add up on the SUV. We tend to focus on the brake pads. In the business, the pads, and shoes on drum brakes, are called the friction material. That’s because they provide the friction used to stop the vehicle. The pads are designed to be effective throughout their useful life – it’s not until they are worn so thin as to be out of spec that they lose stopping effectiveness.
The mechanical parts of the brakes have pistons and springs that get quite a workout while breaking. Over many miles, these wear and get gummed up. They start to lose effectiveness gradually and could even fail. That’s why a regular brake inspection is important for your SUV. At Big Brand Tire & Service nearest you we can test the operation of the brakes and see if any parts need cleaning or replacing.
That leads us to brake fluid service at Big Brand Tire & Service nearest you. Some of the critical additives in the fluid that lubricate and clean the SUV fluid system are depleted over time. That and moisture building up in the system deteriorate the performance of the brake fluid. A brake service at Big Brand Tire & Service nearest you cleans out deposits, water and dirt. Then the system is filled up with fresh fluid.
The tires are what connect the SUV to the road. The stopping force is ultimately dependent on the traction provided by the tires. The better they grip the road, the quicker you’ll stop.
This is especially important on wet Bakersfield roads. Studies have shown that wet stopping distance increases significantly as tires wear down. Bakersfield drivers need to understand that they can have brakes that are operating at peak efficiency and yet still be in danger because their tires are worn out.
- Low or spongy brake pedal
- Hard brake pedal
- A brake warning light that stays on
- Constantly squealing or grinding brakes
- Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes
If you are experiencing any of these, it’s time to get your brakes checked.
There are two types of brakes: disc and drum. Disc brakes have a rotor that’s attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor, kind of like the brakes on a bicycle.
Drum brakes are more common on back wheels. Both types have pads or shoes that press against the brakes and slow the vehicle. Brake pads and shoes are made out of very tough material to withstand the heat and force generated when stopping your car. Eventually, they wear out with use, and become too thin and need to be replaced.
If the brake pads wear away completely, you can damage the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor. Then the rotor must either be resurfaced or replaced. That’s not only expensive, but also dangerous because your vehicle won’t stop as quickly. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and must be replaced.
Brake service will also include a check of your brake fluid. When the brakes are applied, the pressure in the fluid actives the brake pads or shoes. Not enough fluid means not enough pressure to brake properly. Also, water builds up in the brake fluid over time, which leads to corrosion, leaks and brake damage, and with hard use, the brakes could severely fade or even fail. You should change the brake fluid when your manufacturer recommends to avoid these problems.
There are different grades of brake pads; good, better and best. Higher grades cost more, but give better braking performance and smoother operation. It’s OK to upgrade your brake pads. But, never use a grade that’s lower than what the manufacturer recommends.
So, be sure to properly maintain your brakes, because it’s a lot cheaper than paying the body shop after an accident.
Come in to Big Brand Tire & Service nearest you for an brake inspection before damage occurs. You can call ahead for an appointment by calling 866-779-8473.