The braking system is the most critical system of your vehicle. Its maintenance and operation are vital for you, your family and other motorists. You should not attempt to service or repair the brakes on your vehicle. The maintenance and repair of the braking system requires specific tools and adequate technical training. That’s exactly what Autotech Performance offers you.
Main components of the braking system
- Brake pedal
- Servo brake
- Master cylinder
- Brake fluid
- Hydraulic lines
- Proportional valve
- Brake callipers
- Disc brake
- Disc brake pad
- Drum brake
- Brake shoes (hooves)
- Wheel cylinder
- ABS anti-lock braking system
- Electronic wheel speed sensors
- Hand brake
How does the braking system work?
The brake pedal, which you press to slow down or stop your vehicle, is connected by levers and rods to the brake booster. The brake booster multiplies and transfers the initial leverage – generated by your foot pressing the brake pedal – towards the master cylinder. In turn, the master cylinder uses this amplified force to push the brake fluid – from the tank where it is accumulated – through the hydraulic lines, to the two front and rear brakes that are mounted on the wheels of your vehicle.
The hydraulic pressure that reaches the brake of each wheel is then used to generate friction that slows down and stops the vehicle: the more you press the pedal, the greater the pressure applied on the brakes, until the possible blockage of the wheels – if your vehicle is not equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
More specifically, in a conventional braking system (without ABS), the brake fluid travels to the wheels via proportional valves which distribute the pressure according to the weight distribution on each wheel.
Note that the brake fluid has an oily texture and is viscous to the touch and is odorless when new. The used liquid gradually acquires a brown color due to the accumulation of water and contaminants in the system.
A conventional drum brake (usually located at the rear of the vehicle) consists of a rotating drum, which is attached to the wheel, and two brake shoes, which work in extension relative to the drum. The segments are curved metal plates provided with a fiber brake lining placed around their outer bow; they are attached to a fixed part of the system. When a brake pressure is applied, the brake fluid flows through a hydraulic line to the wheel cylinder located between the brake shoes. The wheel cylinder then pushes the segments outwardly so as to contact the inside of the drum. This creates a friction which slows the rotation of the drum and consequently the wheel.
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
The anti-lock braking system is located between the brake master cylinder and the wheels. Its function is to prevent vehicle instability under extreme braking conditions. To do this, the ABS modulates the brake fluid pressure that is applied to each front and rear brake, which prevents “locking” of the wheels – which could happen with a conventional braking system (see above). Normal brake fluid pressure is restored when there is no risk of wheel lock. As you drive, the system constantly monitors each wheel with an electronic wheel speed sensor: If one wheel turns slower than the other wheels, the anti-lock system releases pressure on that wheel. In the event of a failure of the anti-lock system, the ABS warning light illuminates on the dashboard: this indicates that the basic brake system now applies MAXIMUM pressure on all wheels, WHICH COULD LEAD TO SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUES.
In addition, when a vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system, the brake pads (disc brakes) and the segments (drum brakes) are equipped with wear sensors that detect any wear on these parts.
Each vehicle is equipped with an emergency braking system independent of the main system. The parking brake pushes the brake shoes on the drums (for rear drum brakes) or compresses the rear brake rotors (for rear disc brakes) using a mechanical device.
Signs of potential trouble related to your vehicle’s braking system
- Illumination of the brake warning light (red) on the instrument panel
- Illumination of the amber warning light indicating a potential problem in the anti-lock system (ABS)
- Traces of brake fluid at the parking spot
- A sagging or spongy brake pedal
- A brake pedal hard to push
- Vibration of the brake pedal or the vehicle
- Illumination of the parking brake warning light
- An inefficient handbrake
- Grinding noise from the rear of the vehicle
- Noise from the front of the vehicle
- Oily residues inside the wheels
- Residues in the brake fluid reservoir
- Low level of brake fluid in the tank: REMEDY THIS SITUATION WITHOUT DELAY