DriveArchive Article 391

Quick Registration Search

Could You Replace Your Brakes?

brakes Much as the fun part of driving is making the car go, go, go – the less glamorous but important part is making it stop, stop, stop! You really don’t want to have that terrifying feeling that comes with a screech and an inevitable impact. No - stopping isn’t fun - but it is vital.

The method by which cars stop is pretty simple. You press the brake pedal, which creates a hydraulic pressure in your brake pipes, which causes something to squeeze something else and that friction stops the car.

In the case of disk brakes, you have disks just behind your wheels and not very far away, on either side of the disks are brake pads, and behind them is a hydraulic cylinder which is connected to the brake pipes, a master cylinder, a pedal and your foot. Most cars these days have disk brakes at the front. You may have disks at the rear too, or you may have the older brake shoes. Either way it is friction that is stopping you, and friction generates heat.

Those brake pads and shoes gradually wear away from the friction and the heat. If you hear a squealing when you brake, it’s time to get replacement parts. Don’t wait too long, because the squealing is a warning that the friction material has all but gone. When it all goes, you’re left with the metal backing plate rubbing on your disks, which firstly won’t stop you as efficiently and secondly will damage the disks. The same is true for the shoes on the rear drum brakes if you have them.

So, can you do the job yourself? As always with car DIY, it will depend on your level of skill, equipment, experience and bravery. Clearly you need to make a good job of the repair, lives are at stake. Having said that, the job is fairly simple in most cases, especially if you do the job sooner rather than later.

brakes In the simplest case, you will need replacement pads. There are lots of makes to choose from, and lots of materials depending on your driving requirements. In most cases it would be wise to pick the recommended standard pads for your car. Jack the car up, whip off the wheel, and have a look at the calipers. You may be wise to refer to specific instructions for doing the job on your own particular car, but in general, all you need to do is remove a couple of split pins, slide out the old pads, slide in the new ones and you’re done.

Of course it won’t be that easy! No, that area of the car is always messy, and the old pads will probably not come out easily. You will need to ease them away from the disk, which will involve putting back pressure on your brake fluid, so best to remove the cap from the master brake cylinder under the bonnet and watch for brake fluid spilling out as you squeeze. The new pads will be thicker than the old pads, so you will need to push the cylinder back in, there are tools to help with this.

And of course the complexity does not stop there. You should check your brake pipes are not corroded, check the flexible pipes are in good condition, and then there’s the disk itself. It wears out too, and can reach a minimum thickness and need replacing. Also, have the old pads damaged the disk, has it got scores on it? If so, replace the disk as not so much friction material will be able to press on the disk, reducing braking efficiency. Discs can also warp, which you may be able to detect when braking as a vibration through the pedal. They may be cracked. It might be an idea to replace them if they have much age to them.

Also, you may well have ABS sensors on these calipers, be very careful with them – and indeed you may well have wear sensors which may have told you the pads needed replacement. Both these sensors are potentially quite delicate, so be very gently with them. Can you, then, replace your own brake parts? As with most jobs on cars, I would say Yes, so long as you have the appropriate tools. You will need to do a ‘proper job’, no short cuts, safety is vital. For more information on what you’ll need, see the source material below.

Source of information:


No Comments so far...
Add a Comment: