Brake Service

While a lot of people point to the tires of their vehicle as the most important part of their car – since the tires are the only part of the vehicle that touches the road – we would suggest that the brakes are even more vital. Good contact with the road is very important for driving, but being able to stop safely is essential. That is why proper brake service and maintenance is the cornerstone for ensuring you keep your car in great shape and stay safe when you are behind the wheel.

Understanding how the brakes work to slow and stop your vehicle is a great way to become better acquainted with how your car operates and what you should know when you are behind the wheel. While you might not become a mechanic or do a lot of maintenance on your car, the more you know, the easier it is to tell when something is wrong. Acting early to have a part replaced or have repairs made can help you avoid bigger and more expensive problems and help you avoid collisions. For all of your vehicle needs, including brake service, come visit us at Romeoville Toyota, and we will take good care of your car.

A close up is showing a brake pad being compressed on a caliper during a brake service.

How Do Brakes Work?

Whether you are interested in doing some work on your own vehicle, or you simply enjoy going for a drive after a long day, we find it very helpful to understand how different systems in your car operate. By knowing how your brakes work, for example, you can more easily identify when something is wrong with them, and your car needs brake service. By the end of this, you will not be a mechanical engineer or anything, but you will have a good sense of what goes on when you press down on the brake pedal.

First, let us look at the major parts of your vehicle’s brake system. In general, this comes down to two different things: the brake hydraulics and the actual brakes themselves. There are two different types of brakes used in the auto industry, so we will talk about both types: disc and drum brakes. No matter which type of brakes your vehicle has, the hydraulic system is, more or less, the same from one car to another.

The hydraulic system in your vehicle’s brakes is designed to amplify the force you apply when you step down on the pedal. You should be able to slow or stop your car by applying only a little bit of pressure to your brake pedal, yet the system has to slow your wheels that are spinning very fast. This is done by a large master cylinder that is directly connected to your brake pedal, and smaller slave cylinders that are located at each wheel.
When you apply the brake, a piston in the master cylinder is depressed, pushing against springs and hydraulic fluid, which sends fluid to the slave cylinders. This fluid then depresses pistons at each of the slave cylinders, and the pressure is distributed evenly throughout the system. These slave cylinders then apply force to the brakes that actually slows your wheels down. By using this kind of hydraulic system, a little bit of force applied by you on the brake pedal is multiplied and greatly increased by the time it reaches the wheels and brakes.

As we said, there are two major types of brakes: disc and drum. If your vehicle is quite old, it might have drum brakes on all four wheels. More likely, however, is that you have disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear wheels. Luxury cars will often have disc brakes on all four wheels – so your exact configuration really depends on what type of car you have.

Disc brakes have a disc that spins along with your wheels, and this has a large caliper on it that houses brake pads and the slave cylinders connected to your brake hydraulic system. When you apply the brakes, these pistons press the brake pads against the disc, which slows your vehicle down. Nothing applies a braking force directly to your wheels – the pads slow the disc, which in turn slows your wheels.

With drum brakes, there is a hollow drum that spins with your wheels, rather than a disc plate. When you apply the brake pedal, pistons within the drum push shoes against the inside of the drum; brake linings (rather than pads) on these shoes take the brunt of the friction and heat. So with disc brakes, pads press against the disc from outside of it to slow it down, while drum brakes have lined shoes that press against the drum from within to slow it down.

They both work well, though disc brakes are typically more effective and can handle abuse better. When you slow down, the weight of your vehicle shifts to the front, which means the front brakes have to do more work than the rear ones. That is why modern vehicles typically have disc brakes on the front, if not on all four wheels.

A close up is showing a retaining clip being removed with a screwdriver on drum brakes.

Warning Signs that You Need New Brakes

There are quite a few signs that you might notice, which can warn you that it is time to replace the lining or pads on your brakes. Sometimes there can be more serious issues that require brake service, or you might have a leak in the hydraulic system. Any time you notice any of these warning signs, do not wait – bring your vehicle in for brake service right away.

Some common warning signs of brake issues include:

  • Persistent Squeaking or Squealing – You might hear occasional squeaking or squealing from your brakes when they are wet, which is not necessarily a sign they are failing. If this sound continues in all kinds of weather, however, then it is time to have your brakes checked.
  • Brake Light Comes On – If your vehicle has a brake indicator on the dashboard and it comes on, then it usually means your lining or pads need to be replaced. Some pads are designed with a wire that gets exposed when they wear down, and when this happens, it triggers the warning light to come on.
  • Grinding Metal Sound – If you hear a grinding metal sound when you apply your brakes, then it almost always means your pads or lining have worn too thin. Come in for brake service right away, or you could damage your brake system.
  • Longer Distance to Stop – As your brakes wear down, they become less effective. So if you notice that it takes longer to stop than before, then you need to have your brake lining or pads replaced.
  • Vibration When Braking – If you notice a vibration or a similar feeling when you apply the brakes, then it typically means the pads are worn down. It can also mean part of your brake system is damaged – either way, it is time for service.

If you suspect something is wrong with your brake system, then have it checked out immediately. Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your braking system.

A close up is showing a mechanic holding a new and a used brake pad side-by-side.

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684 S. Weber Road • Romeoville, IL 60446

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Today's Hours:

Open Today! Sales: 9am-8pm

Open Today! Service: 7am-6pm

Open Today! Parts: 7am-6pm

Romeoville Toyota 41.5995356, -88.1235599.