Brakes, ABS, & Axles in Austin, TX
Newton’s law said that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.
For automotive brakes, that force is friction. At first, it was a block of wood on a lever, applied by hand to the wheel. Today, a Corvette going 70 mph can stop in 142 feet!
The principle may still be the same, but the technology is much improved. Modern braking systems use hydraulics and computer controlled systems to ensure the shortest braking distances. Long gone are the days of drum brakes with asbestos linings.
Today’s braking systems use advanced materials designed to provide a quiet, smooth and sure stop.
The braking system in a car consists of as many as 75 parts. All these must work correctly or the system will experience problems. Some of these problems include:
- Long stopping distance
When most people think of brakes, they think of the friction materials or the pads and shoes. The friction is important and worn friction is the cause of most brake problems. But, the hydraulic and mechanical systems are just as important.
A few years ago, when friction was made of asbestos and rotors and drums were big and heavy, a brake job was a simple matter of replacing the pads and shoes and resurfacing the rotors and drums.
Not so today. The need for lighter, more fuel efficient cars made it necessary to design smaller brake systems. The smaller pads had to use harder friction materials and the rotor surfaces had to use less metal.
The harder pads and thinner rotors are more often than not, replaced as a unit. Replacing brake pads without measuring the rotors and replacing them when needed, will result in an unsafe condition.
Many cars and trucks now have disc brakes on the front and rear. Most of the time, the front pads will need replacement twice as often as the rear. This is due to the extra weight in front and characteristics of weight transfer.
The brake fluid is a specially designed fluid. It absorbs moisture as well as providing lubrication and hydraulic pressure to the calipers. Brake fluid should be changed annually since it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and becomes saturated. The saturated fluid, allows rust and dirt to accumulate in the system which causes failure of many parts.
One exciting new development in automotive brakes is the Anti-lock Braking System. At first, many people hated ABS. They didn’t like the loss of control the computer system represented.
The truth is, ABS works great! A sensor on each wheel detects wheel lock-up and tells the computer module to reduce pressure to the brakes on that wheel. This system allows the car to stop in a straight line in the shortest possible distance on any road condition. Better yet, it allows the driver to brake and steer without wheel lock-up. ABS is a huge safety factor and the ABS warning light should never be ignored.
A car brakes totally differently without ABS, and in an emergency the driver may not know how to handle the vehicle with no anti-lock system.
Brakes should be replaced by ASE certified technicians. A job done improperly, can not only cost additional money, but it can cost lives.