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Your brake system is a critical safety feature in your vehicle and the chances are that your onboard computer controls the braking system. While our certified technicians spend most of their time helping customers to get their car going again, we also have the expertise to make sure you are stopping safely too! AAMCO shops offer a thorough brake evaluation at no charge.
A Check engine light can mean many different issues are happening depending on your vehicle’s make and model. When you get a check engine light, even though it’s called a check “engine” light, it doesn't necessarily point directly to your engine. It could be your transmission, brake system, air conditioning, or any system on the vehicle, so it's important you have the codes retrieved from the vehicles computers to allow for a pinpoint diagnostic of the system and problem. If the light is flashing, that could mean a severe problem that is causing other damage to the engine and or transmission so do not delay.
When one of the red or yellow brake indicators on your dashboard Illuminates, it may just mean your brake pads or fluid are getting low and you are due for a Courtesy Check, or it could be your vehicle’s computer alerting you to a bigger problem.
Grinding that you hear and/or feel in the brake pedal could be an indicator of several things. There could be some debris such as a rock caught between the wheel and brakes, perhaps the backing plate. Or more seriously, it could be an indicator that your brake pads are worn down and grinding metal on metal that could be creating significant damage to the brake rotor, calipers, bearings and other brake parts.
Grinding could also be an indicator of a lack of lubrication in vehicles with rear drum brakes. DO NOT delay if you hear or feel grinding, this can be an indicator of a serious problem.
If you notice the brake pedal feels softer or is lower than normal and sinks all the way to the floor when you press on it, it’s a serious sign that your brakes need immediate attention. A hydraulic leak in the brake hoses, lines, calipers, or cylinders is typically the cause of this condition and without brake fluid applying pressure to your brakes, you have no brakes! Don’t wait! If you notice this problem, pull off to the side of the road and have the vehicle towed to the nearest service center for repair.
Today’s braking systems are very complex, using a computer to control many of the key systems. This computer ensures equal braking when in slippery conditions, provides stability and traction to all wheels when accelerating, and can even straighten out the vehicle when it starts to slip sideways or begins to tip in harsh conditions. AMAZING! Vehicles that swerve or pull during normal driving is often an indicator of a computer, brake caliper or even a suspension problem. The opposing brake caliper on the other side of the pull is probably frozen allowing for more or all of the pressure during braking being applied to the side that is not frozen resulting in the swerving or pulling to that side when braking.
This is a serious problem and it should not be ignored. Seek out professional help as soon as you can, and we suggest not driving the vehicle until you have it looked at.
A nose wrinkling odor that occurs after repeated hard braking is a sign of overheated, overworked brakes or a slipping clutch. First check to make sure your parking brake is fully released and allow your brakes to cool down.
If safe to do so, check to see if there’s any smoke coming from a wheel or if you can see the rotors, look to see if they appear blue or red from heat. You may have a frozen brake caliper as mentioned above and should have the vehicle towed to the nearest AAMCO so we can check it out for you and provide the proper repairs.
Brakes and tires tend to last about the same amount of mileage and time. Aggressive or stop-and-go driving will tend to wear out your brakes much faster than your tires, but you should have both checked each time you change your oil. Typically, a well operating system with moderate driving habits will last 40,000 - 60,000 miles with some vehicles (such as Hybrids) getting more than 100,000 miles. The heavier the vehicle the faster the wear, so a heavy pick-up truck will wear much faster than a small compact vehicle.
There is a myth out there that replacement brakes last less than the original vehicle dealer brakes. Not true. If the braking system is properly serviced during the brake friction replacement, the new brakes should last as long and sometime longer than the original.
Original brakes last a decent amount of time primarily because everything is new and well lubricated, and the brake parts are sliding, moving and returning like they should.
When brakes wear they get very hot and hardware corrodes and/or rusts, seals harden, rotors glaze and get thinner and therefore do not perform as they did when new.
As long as you prepare the new brake hardware, mounting surfaces, rotors, hydraulics calipers, and use a quality product, your replacement pads will last and perform as well, if not better, than the original.
You cannot expect your brakes to be totally quiet all the time. Why not? Brake Systems use cast iron rotors on each wheel that are squeezed by brake friction material on each side when you push down on the brake pedal. When you push down on the pedal, the caliper pistons extend to contact the rotor evenly on both sides, which begins to slow down the rotor and vehicle…any slight deviation or hiccup in this operation will create a slight vibration of the rotor and cause a squeal.
Most brake squeals occur at a distinct frequency. The speed of the vehicle and how hard you press down on the brake pedal will only change the volume of noise not the pitch, since the pitch is controlled by the size of the rotor and how the brake pad friction is constructed. That’s why modern ceramic pads tend to not make noise, or at least noise we can hear. The challenge is to dampen or minimize the vibration that is making the noise.
Most brake pads and Rotor combinations will make a kind of sanding or grinding noise for the first few stops in the morning until the pads clean up any surface rust and moisture they've accumulated by sitting between drives. Remember, the rotors are raw cast iron discs, so any humidity will lay down a thin film of rust, which will be swept away the first few times you brake.
Many brake pads also have a little spring steel indicator that will scrape on the rotor as the pad gets thin telling you that it's time for that brake service and hopefully saving you from damaging the rotors if they get too low.
Always clean up and lubricate any sliding parts until the pads slide easily in the mount. Apply a thin film of high-temp brake grease to any other sliding surfaces and pins, including an extremely thin film where the back of the pad (not the friction side) meets the caliper pistons and mount. Obviously, avoid getting any of that grease on the pad or rotor. Applying this film of high-temp disc brake grease to the sliding surfaces and any metal to metal contacts will absorb the vibration and allow for the parts to contact, move as they should, minimize vibrations and not squeal!