Brake Repair: Troubleshooting Checklist Brake Repair: Troubleshooting Checklist

Brake repair can be a tricky thing and it’s not something you should undertake unless you have experience working on cars. If you make a mistake it could mean problems stopping, possibly causing an accident or a serious injury. However, if you know what you’re doing, most brake repairs are quite simple and straightforward. Here are few troubleshooting tips:

Disc Brakes

One of the most common problems you’ll encounter with disc brakes is noise. If the noise appears to be coming from the brake pads themselves, you might be able to cure it by simply applying brake fluid. If that doesn’t work, and nothing appears damaged or worn, then replace the brake pads on the offending wheel. In most cases this will eliminate the problem.

When there’s a grinding noise when you apply pressure on your breaks, you will have to replace not only the brake pads but also the rotors, since they’ll be heavily worn too. The noise problem could also be in your brake calipers which push the pads down in to the rotor. If they’re not lubricated well, it can cause excessive noise. If lubricating the calipers doesn’t work, examine these and replace as necessary.

Drum Brakes

One of the most common problems with rear drum brakes is that the self-adjuster can stick or wear out. Drum brakes should adjust themselves automatically as you reverse and apply the brakes. They can stop or stick though, and you might not notice until you have to depress the brake pedal hard in order for the rear brakes to bite.

If your rear wheels are making a strange noise or lock up, it’s a sure sign that the self-adjuster has over-adjusted. In both instances, when you examine the parts, you’ll see they’re worn. Many times, the brakes are worn and uneven and you will need to replace them.

Brake Fluid

Your brakes depend on brake fluid to work smoothly. To check brake fluid levels, check the master cylinder which is in the engine compartment under the hood. Make sure you clean the top of the cylinder thoroughly before removing it otherwise dust can fall into the fluid. Dirt can cause failure of the seals within the master cylinder.

Check your brake fluid regularly. There should be no leaks and when the fluid turns dark brown in color, you need to replace it in order for the brakes to be fully effective.

If you have ABS brakes, which are on many cars these days, be aware of what you have to do before removing the top of the master cylinder. Check the owner’s manual before you do anything. With some models you need to depress the brake pedal a number of times before removing the top of the cylinder.

Brake Pedal

If you encounter a situation where you suddenly need to push down hard on the brake pedal for your brakes to work, it could be due to your brake fluid being contaminated by air in the system. To cure the problem you’ll need to bleed your brakes. It could also be due to low brake fluid. Filling to the correct level will take care of the problem.

It could also be caused by worn brake pads, which will need to be replaced, or a bad brake booster power unit. In this event, you’ll need to fit a new boost unit.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!