Brakes are pretty much the most important safety device on your car. If you’ve ever partially lost your brakes in the past, you’ll agree that it’s not something you want to experience again. Having your brakes inspected twice a year for wear and damage can protect you and your passengers. Additionally, it will also help save you money by catching any minor damage before it becomes too costly.
Brake System Components That Can Fail
Master Cylinder – serves as the heart of the vehicle’s braking system and holds the brake fluid when it is not being delivered to the brakes through the brake lines. If brake fluid leaks because the master cylinder is worn, or brake lines are plugged or cracked to the point that the fluid cannot be delivered, the brake pads will become damaged and ruined.
Brake Lines – connect to the Master Cylinder through a combination valve, which combines a metering and proportioning valve. It regulates the pressure on the front and rear wheels to make sure both sets of brakes are applied simultaneously. A malfunctioning combination valve may cause the wheels to lock up.
Brake Pads and Shoes – are normally made of ceramic, metal or organic materials, while the disc rotors and drums they press against are made of metal. Because the pads and shoes create friction to stop the car, they gradually wear down over time and may wear away completely, causing the metal of the calipers and cylinders they are attached to grind against the rotors and drums and damage them. Some pads have a metal strip attached that sounds a warning whistle when the pad becomes too worn, but this strip sounds only when the car is in motion and the brakes are not applied.
Brake Fluid – can become dirty or contaminated as it draws rust-causing moisture and picks up other debris, or it can break down from excessive heat. Clean brake fluid is either clear or slightly yellow, while dirty brake fluid may be brown or even black. Old and dirty brake fluid can damage costly ABS brake systems internally.
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