All About Brake Service

November 22nd, 2019 by

A close up of the brake system on a car is shown.

Vehicle ownership grants a person quite a bit of personal freedom, as freedom of travel is a wonderful and convenient freedom to possess. However, this freedom comes at a cost, as there are quite a few different costs and responsibilities that come with vehicle ownership. Not only do you need to pay for things like taxes and insurance, but also for potential repairs. Vehicles are very complex pieces of machinery, so you’ll find yourself searching “car service near me” within a few months of your vehicle ownership.

One common form of vehicle maintenance you will find yourself needing is a brake service. You use your brakes all the time while driving, and they are vitally important, as you always need a way to slow your vehicle down and stop it. Due to the design of brakes, they will eventually need to be replaced, so knowing the warning signs is something that all vehicle owners should know. Here, we will discuss the signs to look out for, as well as the importance of a brake service, and different options available to you.

What is Brake Service?

A brake service is vehicle maintenance that is performed on the brake system. There are quite a few different forms of brake servicing that can be done, as the brake system includes quite a few different components. The most common form of brake servicing that you will find your vehicle requiring is a pad and rotor swap. Brake pads are a component of a vehicle’s disc brakes. They are small steel-backed plates which contain pads of friction material. These pads create friction by rubbing against the brake rotor, which is a metal plate that is attached to the vehicle’s wheel. The brake pad grabs the rotor, which creates friction and slows the vehicle down.

Over time, this constant friction wears down the material on the brake pad, as well as the area of the brake rotor where the pads grab. Both will need to be replaced from time to time to ensure that the brake system stays effective. This is roughly every 50,000 miles, although some are designed to last longer. It also depends on how you treat the brakes, as avoiding quick sharp braking can help prolong them.

Occasionally, you may also require some other forms of brake servicing. If you find your brakes wearing down unevenly and prematurely, you may require a caliper replacement. A brake caliper is a component of the braking system that is responsible for applying the brake pads to the rotor. It is filled with a hydraulic fluid, which helps the piston apply the pads to the rotors evenly. When the piston wears down, it begins sticking and can apply the pad unevenly. This causes the pad to wear down quicker and should be replaced quickly to avoid any additional repair costs.

Each wheel has its own caliper, rotor, and pads, and each caliper needs to be filled with brake fluid in order to function properly. This is achieved by the brake lines and the fluid reservoir under the hood of the car and contains a pool of brake fluid. This brake fluid is supplied to the calipers via long and skinny metallic tubes called brake lines. These can usually be seen underneath the vehicle, covered by the car’s side paneling.

Signs You May Need Brake Service

Pads and Rotors

There are a few different signs that you may need to replace your pads and rotors. The first is if you notice your brakes becoming less-effective. Another great sign that your pads and rotors are worn down is if you start to notice an audibly loud grinding noise while applying the breaks. The friction material that the pads use grinds against the rotor, which wears down the friction material. Eventually, it wears down completely, leaving nothing but the steel backplate. This causes a loud metal-on-metal grinding noise and is very rough on the rotor. Additionally, if you notice a pulsating in the brake pedal while you are applying the brakes, it could also mean they need to be replaced.


The caliper can be a bit trickier to detect; however, as long as you know what you are looking for, it should be no problem. If you happen to notice your car pulling to one side while you are braking, it may mean that one of your calipers is sticking. One of the wheels is gripping the pad more than the other, causing them to slow at different rates. If you notice the caliper leaking near the seals at all, you should have it looked at quickly, as brake fluid can run out quickly from a leaky caliper. You can also tell that the caliper is going bad if your brake pad is wearing unevenly.

A close up of a caliper, a common part that can be replaced at a local Cincinnati, OH garage when you search 'car service near me', is shown.

Brake Lines/Reservoir

If your car requires brake line work, this can be determined rather easily. If you notice that there is a pool of fluid under your car after it has been sitting for a while, then you will need to get the line repaired/replaced. Likewise with the reservoir, if you notice brake fluid leaking from the seams of the reservoir, you will need to have it replaced. You never want to run out of brake fluid while driving, as it could render them useless.

Different Options for Brakes

When it comes time for your vehicle to get some brake work done, a good idea is to familiarize yourself with your available options. Many people are not aware of this, but there are actually a few different options available for parts in terms of quality and performance.

Take brake pads; for instance, there are different options available based on the material that the friction pads are composed of. The first option is semi-metallic and is generally the standard option when getting brake pads. They are generally some of the cheapest options available but are quite durable nonetheless. They are usually 30-65% metal and are relatively easy on rotors.

You can find ceramic brake pads, which are more expensive than the semi-metallic option. Ceramic pads last a lot longer than semi-metallic pads, produce less dust, and are also much quieter. There are also Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO) pads, which are made from organic materials like fiber, glass, rubber, and Kevlar. These pads are great for noise-reduction; however, they wear-down quicker than semi-metallic pads and produce much more dust.

There are also a few different options when it comes to brake rotors. Primarily, there are three different types of brake rotors; smooth, drilled, and slotted. Smooth rotors are the standard for just about all vehicles. It provides a large surface area for the pads to catch, but also create a lot of heat, which can warp the brake system. Drilled rotors have small holes that were drilled into them, which allows heat to escape from the rotors, as well as water to drain out.

Slotted rotors are very similar in theory and design to drilled rotors; however, the slots are much wider, which helps prevent them from getting clogged by mud or sludge. By picking the right parts, you can maximize your new brakes’ lifespan and prevent any premature replacement, which will save you money in the long run.

When you are ready for your next brake service, visit us at McCluskey Chevy in Cincinnati, Ohio.