Brake Basics

Brake Basics

Brake maintenance isn’t just a vital safety concern, routine inspections can save you lots of time and money down the road. As soon as you hear or feel that something may be amiss, get it checked out immediately.

Brake maintenance isn’t just a vital safety concern, routine inspections can save you lots of time and money down the road.

Brakes-Mastehead

How do I know if I need new brakes?How do I know if I need new brakes?

1. One of the easiest ways to know you may need some brake maintenance is just by listening. If you regularly hear a high-pitched screech when applying the brakes, it’s time to get them checked out.   

2. Other indicators include reduced responsiveness or fading. Being able to push the pedal too far toward the floor may be a sign of a fluid leak. 

3. If your vehicle pulls to one side while braking, the brake linings could be wearing unevenly. A grinding sound could mean that your brake pads are toast, and a noticeable vibration or pulsating brake pedal could be a sign that one or more of your rotors are warped. 

If you experience any of these indicators, it’s time to let a Belle Tire specialist take a look. 


What is a brake inspection?What is a brake inspection?

A brake inspection involves a trained professional checking out the different components of your braking system to see what, if anything, needs to be replaced or repaired. This includes: 

Test drive the vehicle to verify the customers concern

Inspection of brake friction material for wear and to determine remaining life

Inspection of brake fluid level and condition

Inspection of brake hydraulic system for wear or leaks

Inspection of rotors and drums for warping and measurement thickness to determine remaining life

How often should I have my brakes inspected?

Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will contain a more specific answer for this, but a good rule of thumb is to get your brakes checked out by a professional every six months. This is about the same time interval as a tire rotation, so it makes sense to have these done at the same time.

Brakes Inspected
Brakes Replaced

How often should I have my brakes replaced?

You should consult your owner’s manual for more exact recommendations for your specific vehicle. But there are also many external factors that contribute to the life of the hubs, calipers, rotors and pads

How often should I replace brake pads?

The more precise answer to this question may have to do with the type of driving you do and your specific vehicle type. Steep inclines, lots of stop-and-go driving and vehicle weight can all factor into it. But as a general rule, most pads last anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Because this is a wide range, it’s important to get them regularly inspected by a Belle Tire technician.

Brakes pad-used
New Rotors

How often will I need to replace rotors?

Your specific driving style and conditions play a part here as well. Generally however, under normal driving conditions, rotors can also last between around 30,000 to 70,000 miles, and sometimes even longer. It’s not a bad idea to replace rotors along with brake pads to ensure that any grooves in the old rotors do not cause uneven wear in the new pads. Because there are so many external factors involved in a rotor’s lifespan, regular inspections at your local Belle Tire are highly recommended.

Components of your braking sysytemComponents of your braking sysytem

Each may wear out at different times and require differing levels of attention. Let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail to better understand what they do:

Wheel hub

This is the mounting assembly for your vehicle’s wheel. It’s there to house the wheel bearing and support the lugs so that the wheel can spin freely while keeping it attached to the vehicle.

Wheels Hub
Brakes CALIPER

Caliper

This clamp-like part sits on either side of the rotor and houses the brake pads and pistons. When the brake pedal is pushed, the fluid creates pressure on the pistons, forcing the brake pads to contact the rotor. The caliper makes sure this happens safely and securely.

Rotor (disc)

These circular discs are connected to each wheel and act as the contact point for the brake pads. As the calipers squeeze the pads together to make contact with the rotor, the rotor’s surface area creates friction to resist the spinning of the wheel, ultimately slowing the vehicle down.

Brakes Rotar
Brakes Pad-new

Brake pad

Placed inside the caliper and next to the pistons, these pieces are made of a durable, heat-resistant material that can withstand the friction of being pressed against the rotors to slow the speed of the wheel’s rotation.

How much does a brake job cost?How much does a brake job cost?

The cost differences between brake jobs can come down simply to the quality of replacement parts selected. There can be wide price ranges between low-end and high-end pads, rotors and calipers. What may seem like a good bargain in the short-term may end up costing you more down the road because of repeated replacements or other larger safety and performance issues.

Also, only replacing brake fluid and pads may offer a quick fix for certain issues like sluggish or loud brakes, but a more complete overhaul can help ensure that other, more serious issues that could jeopardize your safety aren’t on the horizon. Tackling larger issues early on can end up saving you time and money down the road. 

When it comes to something as important as your brakes, “cheaper” doesn’t always mean “less expensive”. As always, our knowledgeable Belle Tire technicians are standing by to help diagnose any problems and work with you to determine the best solution for your specific vehicle and budget. 


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