Brake Service Basics
by Pat Goss
Brakes are certainly a critical part of the safety of your automobile, and that means that brakes should be checked on a regular basis, every 12,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first, or whenever there’s a change in the feel of the brakes or the brakes are making noise.
All right, now, what are you trying to accomplish? New brake pads are thick, like these down here. As they wear down, the friction material goes away, and you have to catch them before they wear down to where the metal of the brake pad touches the metal of the rotor. Let them go that long, and the rotor will get all scored up and it will need to be replaced, and that can be expensive.
Now, why would you trust your life to the lowest bidder? It makes no sense to me. Buy quality brake parts. You know you’re going to get good parts from the dealer, but even at the dealer there are two levels. Look at the packaging on these because most times when you buy manufacturer’s pads, it will tell you that it’s original equipment or that they match all of the original equipment specifications.
Even in the aftermarket you can buy cheap and you can buy good. A very good set of pads has shims on the backs of the pads to keep them quiet. It has all of the hardware. You certainly don’t want to put pads on without replacing the hardware. That’s what keeps them quiet and keeps them from squealing. So buy good quality brake pads, whether they’re aftermarket or from the dealer.
Now, rotors get warped, they get scored, all kinds of things happen to rotors, and you may have to machine them. Well, in the past machining rotors meant you took them off, you took them to a brake lathe, and you machined them and then put them back on the car. Well, that is no longer acceptable. Today the lathe comes to the vehicle, just like this Hunter unit. This will machine the rotor on the car, which compensates for all of the variances in the suspension and bearings and things like that. It turns it in the mode that it will be used in. It also puts a non- directional finish on the rotor.
And don’t forget that you need special lubricants, metal to metal and metal to rubber, to lubricate the brake calipers. Without this, again, they won’t work right and they may make noise. If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is: MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.