Pacific Automotive Brake Service
Your vehicle’s braking system is often your first and last defense in avoiding an accident. Just a few feet difference in stopping distance can make all the difference, and of course brake failure is simply “not an option.” To protect yourself, your family, and other motorists, it’s vital to keep every component working perfectly. That means regular service and immediate repairs by experienced brake service specialists.
At its most basic, brakes are a straightforward hydraulic system. When you press on the brake pedal, that force is transferred to the master cylinder which pressurizes the brake fluid. Hydraulic lines run to each wheel where the fluid pressure moves slave cylinders that in turn move calipers and the brake pads onto the rotors or drums where friction slows the wheels, and your car, down. The most common maintenance items are replacing worn pads, adjusting the calipers, bleeding air out of the system, replacing old fluid, and making sure there’s enough spare fluid in the reservoir. Common repairs include correcting damage to the rotors or drums and fixing hydraulic leaks, most commonly from seals in the master and slave cylinders.
But today’s braking systems are much more complicated. Power-assist (power brakes) add a pump to amplify the pressure from your foot and the master cylinder so that you don’t have to press on the pedal very hard. Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) add speed sensors at each wheel, valves, often a second pump, and a computerized controller. An ABS automatically “pumps the brakes” rather than following your natural inclination to slam on the brakes and keep pressing. When you do that your wheels can lock up (cease turning entirely), putting your car into a skid. If the computer sees that the wheels are slowing down far faster than your car possibly could, it will momentarily reduce hydraulic pressure to prevent lock up. It will then pump the pressure back up, re-applying the brakes in a fraction of a second.
Regular Brake Services
Pacific Automotive follows each manufacturer’s procedures and guidelines for preventive maintenance and in-warranty service to the letter, and also draws on our many years of experience. Our braking system service package includes many dozens of inspection points and maintenance steps, so the following list is just the highlights.
- visual inspections
- measure pad thickness, replace pads and shoes as needed
- measure drum or rotor wear
- repack wheel bearings as needed
- lubricate calipers and other hardware
- check fluid quality, perform fluid exchange if needed
- top off fluid
- purge all air from the system (bleeding)
- refinish drums and rotors if needed
- test and adjust emergency brake
- test drive
As an absolutely vital safety system, you should bring your vehicle in promptly if you notice anything even the least bit suspicious during stopping. You should be especially alert to any of the following.
- brake warning light on (and emergency brake released)
- pedal feels “spongy” or lower than usual
- pedal shakes when you apply brakes
- you have to press the pedal unusually hard to slow your vehicle
- any vibration or pulsation during braking
- brakes grab with even light pressure on the pedal
- steering wheel shakes or pulls to one side when stopping
- leaking or low break fluid
- screeching, scraping, or grinding, sounds when stopping
Don’t ignore those screeching sounds even if your car is stopping quickly and smoothly. Most likely it’s time to have the brake pads replaced, and postponing that can lead to damage of the rotors or drums, or other more expensive repairs.
In brief, you should have brake service 2 times per year, and visit a brake repair specialist if applying brakes leads to anything but a quick, smooth, and quiet stop.
Pacific Automotive is a full-service auto repair shop, with brake service specialists for foreign as well as domestic vehicles. We put together the latest equipment, up-to-date factory experience, years of experience, and a personal touch to bring you the best brake service in San Diego. We are convenient to Pacific Beach, La Jolla and San Diego, just off the 5 Freeway.