Brakes, Understanding Your Brakes
Tip to help prevent brake problems or failures... The following regular inspections and maintenance should be performed on your brake system.
Check the fluid levels. Check the line for rust or punctures. You may be able to do this, but consult a qualified technician if necessary.
Master Cylinder... The master cylinder, heart of the brake system, contains a reservoir for brake fluid. It is located on the firewall and should be checked periodically to ensure the proper fluid level.
Brake Lines... Attached to the master cylinder, steel brake tubing runs to all four wheels. Brake lines should be inspected for rust, which can lead to leaks. If the lines are damaged they should be replaced.
Calipers and Wheel Cylinders... Brakes are activated by brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder pushing a piston located in the caliper or wheel cylinder against the pad or shoe. A leak can cause erratic braking or brake failure.
Check the brake linings and pads for wear, brake fluid or grease. This check should be done by a qualified technician. Check the wheel bearings and grease seals. This check should be done by a qualified technician.
Bearings and Seals... Wheel bearings should be inspected and lubricated periodically. Worn wheel bearings, which can cause faulty steering as well as erratic braking, should be replaced.
Adjust the parking brake as required. This adjustment should be done by a qualified technician.
Brake Failure Symptoms
Noises: Your brake system may be crying for help if you're hearing strange noises when you depress the brake. Two of the most common are squeaks are grinding.
Squeaks: Friction from the brake lining causes heat. Under extreme conditions this can damage the pads and/or lining, brake drums and rotors.
Grinding: A metallic grinding sound indicates your brake pads are worn through. Metal-to-metal contact will damage drums or rotors.
Low or Fading Brake Pedal: Do your brakes require pumping to stop vehicle? Does the pedal sink to the floor board when you're stopped? There may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines, or the need for a brake adjustment.
Pulling to one side or brake drag: Worn or uneven brake linings or a damaged brake line can cause your vehicle to pull to one side. Brakes that are out of adjustment or have contaminated fluid can cause brakes to drag.