Common Questions About Brake Repairs, Pads, Rotors, Etc.

January 26th, 2024 by

A close up of the brake system on a car is shown during a break service near Monroe.

Here at McCluskey Chevrolet, we’re often answering questions from customers. Many are about the vehicles we sell and the advantages of one over another, but many others are about routine maintenance and repairs—specifically, brakes and what can be done to ensure their continued operation. So, if you’re looking for brake service near Monroe and you have some lingering questions, we’re here to provide the answers.

How Do Brakes Work?

This is a common question that many first-time car buyers ask us. We all have a general idea of how brakes work, but beyond pushing down a pedal to decrease speed, what happens?

Well, there’s an array of components working in unison to make this happen. When the brake pedal is compressed, a push rod presses into a box that contains two chambers. From this point, a rod enters the master cylinder and injects brake fluid into lines that lead to the calipers on each wheel; this increase in fluid pressure closes the calipers, pushing your brake pads against your wheels’ rotors, which creates enough friction to consume your momentum, slowing your vehicle and eventually bringing you to a complete stop.

What’s the Most Common Fix?

The most common repair done for a braking system is the replacement of your brake pads. On average, these should be replaced every 30,000 miles, but this metric can vary based on your driving habits and what you use your vehicle for. If you strictly use your vehicle for the daily commute, you can expect to need a pad replacement at the aforementioned 30,000 miles. However, if you engage in performance-oriented activities such as off-roading or racing, this will have to be done on a more frequent basis.

One of the best ways to stay on top of brake maintenance is to have them checked whenever you bring your vehicle in for an oil change. If you have the technician balance and rotate your tires at the same time as your oil change, they can spot any irregularities in the wear and tear of your tires’ treads. This wear could potentially be attributed to braking issues, which will lead your technician to diagnose those accordingly.

Another indication that your brake pads need servicing is if you hear squeals or squeaks when pressure is applied to the brake pedal. Your brakes should not be making noise in dry conditions. If they are, see a technician because you might need new pads.

How Crucial Is Brake Fluid?

In the same way your engine relies on oil to properly lubricate its moving parts, your brakes need hydraulic fluid to function properly. In fact, your brakes can’t function without their fluid, as this is integral to their operation. While an engine can struggle with low or poor oil, brakes won’t function without enough fluid, as the internal pressure demanded won’t be enough to cause your pads to press against your rotors.

The good news is that your brake fluid doesn’t need to be changed as often as engine oil; on average, it should be done every two years or 30,000 miles—whichever comes first. Some mechanics recommend that this be done on a semi-annual basis, particularly if you live in a humid climate. Brake fluid loses its potency over time, which is why getting your fluids flushed is imperative.

If you notice a smell emanating from your brakes or you find yourself having to push the brake pedal fully to the floor in order to slow down, these are indications that you need to reconstitute your brake fluid.

A close up of a caliper is shown.

How Do Rotors Work?

Rotors are an essential component of braking. These are large round discs inside your wheels that are partially eclipsed by your calipers and brake pads, which squeeze against them to slow your vehicle. Ensuring that your rotors are in good condition isn’t just a matter of extending the longevity of your vehicle but also ensuring your safety.

Similar to the telltale signs of brake pads needing replacement, the sounds of squeaking and grinding whenever you press on the brake pedal may indicate that your rotors are in need of servicing (or replacement). Other signs can indicate a problem with your vehicle’s rotors, such as if your vehicle shakes while moving or your steering wheel vibrates; this is a sign that you should have your braking system inspected immediately.

One of the best ways to preserve the lifespan of your rotors is to have them resurfaced every 30,000 miles. Not only will this keep them in good shape, but this will also allow your brake pads to last longer. Much like other aspects of vehicle maintenance, the frequency of rotor resurfacing depends on the vehicle you drive, your driving habits, and what you use your vehicle for.

It should be noted that, while resurfacing your rotors is an effective way of preserving your brakes, this doesn’t work with every vehicle. Some manufacturers employ rotors made with lighter materials that aren’t designed to be resurfaced; these will instead need replacing. An advantage to replacing your rotors is that, unlike with tires, you don’t need to replace all four at once. If you’re unsure if your rotors need resurfacing or replacement, consult our technicians the next time you bring your vehicle in for servicing.

Preventative Brake Maintenance

When your brakes need to be serviced, there are a few essential steps that a technician will follow. Remember that your vehicle’s braking system is complex and should be entrusted to the skilled hands of a professional. The technician will thoroughly inspect your pads and rotors to ensure they’re in good shape and don’t need to be replaced. If they need to be, they’ll advise you on what needs to be done.

Next, the brake fluid will be flushed, and the lines bled dry. Brake fluid can have build-up that needs to be removed, and the lines that deliver this fluid can sometimes get air bubbles, making them less efficient. During this process, any faulty components will be repaired or replaced.

Your technician will insist on using original manufacturer parts for the components involved in this process and avoid using aftermarket accessories. Although the latter may seem more affordable, it is worth noting that the quality is often inferior as compared to the original parts.

A mechanic is shown performing a brake service on a vehicle.

Getting the Best Brake Service at McCluskey Chevrolet

Properly maintaining your vehicle’s braking system is imperative to ensuring its longevity. Your vehicle is an investment, and routine service is how you recoup a return. Here at McCluskey Chevrolet, our parts and service centers can perform all the tasks that will keep your vehicle on the road. We can provide your routine services, such as tire rotations and oil changes, during which time we can gladly inspect your pads and rotors to ensure they’re in proper working order.

But the services we offer don’t stop there! We can also perform battery life checks and help you procure a new set of tires. We never cut corners with ineffective aftermarket parts, instead using OEM parts direct from the manufacturer. From brakes to tires and everything else, you can always depend on the team here at McCluskey Chevrolet to provide the very best for you and your vehicle every time.