The Braking System is the most critical system on your vehicle. Its maintenance and proper functioning are vital to you, your family and other motorists. You should not attempt to effectuate maintenance or repair work on brakes. Servicing or repairing the braking system requires specific tools and adequate technical training. That is exactly what Autotech Performance offers you.
Main Components of the Braking System
- Brake Pedal
- Brake Booster
- Master Cylinder
- Brake Fluid
- Hydraulic Lines
- Proportional Valve
- Hydraulic Calipers
- Disc Brakes
- Brake Pads
- Drum Brakes
- Brake Shoes
- Wheel Cylinder
- Antilock Braking System (ABS)
- Electronic Wheel Sensors
- Emergency Brake
How does the Braking System work?
The brake pedal, on which you apply pressure to slow down or stop your vehicle, is connected by levers and rods to the brake booster. The brake booster multiplies and transfers the leverage force produced by stepping on the brake pedal to the master cylinder. In turn, the master cylinder uses that amplified leverage to pressure the brake fluid from its reservoir through hydraulic lines toward the two front and rear brakes that are mounted on the wheels of the vehicle.
The hydraulic pressure that reaches each wheel’s brake is then used to create friction to slow down and stop the vehicle: the harder you push on the pedal, the more pressure is applied to the brakes, eventually locking the wheels – that is if your vehicle if not equipped with an Antilock Braking System (ABS).
More precisely, in conventional braking system (without ABS), the brake fluid goes out to the wheels through proportional valves that distribute pressure according to weight distribution on each wheel.
Note that brake fluid has a slippery oily feel and no smell when new. As it ages, the fluid turns smoky brown from the water and contaminants that collect in the system.
In a conventional disc brake (usually located at the front of the vehicle), the brake fluid is pumped through a hydraulic line toward the hydraulic caliper. The caliper is fitted with a pair of fiber brake pads that grab a spinning metal disk – called rotor – attached to the front axle in order to slow down the vehicle. The pads being always in contact with the rotor, they need to be periodically checked and adjusted to detect any sign of wear.
A conventional drum brake (usually located at the rear of the vehicle) consists of a rotating drum that is attached to the wheel, and two expanding brake shoes. The brake shoes are curved metal pads equipped with a fiber brake lining around their outer arc; they are attached to a non-rotating part of the system. When brake pressure is applied, the brake fluid flows through a hydraulic line toward the wheel cylinder located between the brake shoes. The wheel cylinder then expands the shoes outward toward the inside of the drum. This creates friction slowing the rotating part of the drum and consequently the wheel.
Antilock Braking System (ABS)
The Antilock Braking System is located between the brake master cylinder and the wheels. Its purpose is to prevent instability of the vehicle under extreme braking conditions. To do so, the ABS modulates the pressure of the brake fluid that is applied to each front and rear brake, preventing the wheels from “locking up” – as could be the case in a conventional Braking System (see above). Normal brake fluid pressure is restored when there is no longer a possibility of the wheels locking up. As you drive, the system constantly monitors each wheel through an electronic wheel sensor: if one of the wheels is turning slower than the others, the antilock system releases the pressure on that wheel. In the eventuality of an ABS failure, the ABS warning light comes “on” on the instrument panel: it indicates that the basic braking system applies MAXIMUM pressure on all the wheels WHICH CAN LEAD TO SERIOUS SAFETY CONCERNS.
Moreover, if your vehicle is equipped with an Antilock Braking System, the pads (of disk brakes) and shoes (of drum brakes) are fitted with wear sensors that indicate any wearing of these parts.
Every vehicle is equipped with an emergency braking system that is independent from the main system. The emergency brake expands the brake shoes on the drums (for rear brake drums) or compresses the rear brake rotors (for rear disc brakes) by means of a mechanical device.
Signs of troubles related to your vehicle’s Braking System
- A red brake-warning light that stays “on” on the instrument panel
- An amber-warning light that stays “on”, indicating potential problem with ABS
- Small leak of brake fluid at parking spot
- A low or spongy brake pedal
- A brake pedal that is harder than usual
- A shaking brake pedal or vehicle
- An emergency brake light that stays “on” on the instrument panel
- An ineffective emergency brake
- A grinding noise coming from the rear of the vehicle
- A squeaking noise from the front of the vehicle
- An oily residue on the inside of the wheels
- Residues in brake fluid reservoir
- Low level of brake fluid in reservoir: SEE TO IT WITHOUT DELAY