Palo Alto is home to many drivers who may need to do regular inspections for their vehicles. These inspections include checking the important safety systems of vehicles, including brakes, lights, steering, and seat belts. One of the most common things technicians discover during inspections are challenges with braking systems, which can take time and money to repair. Knowing what they may have found, and the processes they follow for repairs, can help you stay safe on the roads and save money in the repair shops. Give Volvo Cars Palo Alto a call today at (650) 353-4700.

What Is Brake Repair?

Brake repair is recurring maintenance that anyone who owns a car should do to increase the lifetime of their vehicle. The quality of the brakes on your vehicle slowly diminishes over time, leading to the possibility of brake failure, which can be dangerous. Most often, technicians may notice you need your brakes repaired during regular inspections of your vehicle and recommend you get repairs done. Sometimes, you may notice something in between your regular inspections and need repairs as soon as possible to stay safe.

There are a few things that may inform you that your car needs new brakes. These include your brake pedal pushing closer to the floor than usual, your car wobbling at highway speeds, your car pulling to the right or left when you brake, unusual noises or vibrations when you brake, your brake warning light comes on and stays on, your brake pedal responds slowly or requires excess pressure to move, or you have squeaky or grinding brakes. If you notice any of these, it is important to take your car in for an inspection to avoid potentially dangerous situations. 

Brake Repair Services

Below are descriptions of the different maintenance technicians may do to repair or replace the brakes on your vehicle:

Brake Bleeding

One way that your brakes may become less effective is if air bubbles get into your braking system. These bubbles can cause a loss of braking power in your vehicle. Bubbles get into your lines when your brake fluid gets old or during repair processes. Brake bleeding is removing these bubbles from your brake fluid lines and other braking systems. A technician can do this by applying a bleeding screw to your brake calipers or wheel cylinders and removing the air until the system only has liquid in it. This repair increases the amount of pressure you apply when braking.

Brake Pad Replacement

Through regular use, your vehicle's brake pads slowly wear down from the friction they create with the wheels of your vehicle, causing them to lose effectiveness. Some things you may notice about your vehicle when its brake pads wear out are scraping noises or your vehicle pulling right or left when you apply the brakes. For this repair, a technician removes any old brake pad friction material from your car and installs new material. The new material will behave almost as it did when you first bought your vehicle and it may take time to get used to them again.

Brake Rotor or Drum Replacement

A brake rotor, or brake drum, is a component of your vehicle's braking system. It is the part of your tire cylinder that the brake pads press against to slow and stop you from moving. Regular use can slowly wear out your brake drum, causing the quality of your brakes to decrease. When a technician repairs this part of your vehicle, they often replace lost surface material with new material in a process called resurfacing. Sometimes, technicians use this process at the same time as replacing your brake pads to give your brakes a near-new feeling when you use them.

Brake Fluid Exchange

A brake fluid exchange is a regular part of ensuring your vehicle stays safe to drive. For this repair, a technician removes all the brake fluid in your vehicle and replaces it. Brake fluid is used to help you apply more pressure to your brakes because it converts force into pressure. This means that it helps you change the amount of force you exert on the brake pedal into a ratio of pressure on your wheels as you engage the brake. For example, pressing on your brake pedal harder increases the pressure on your wheels, stopping your car's tires faster.

Miscellaneous Brake Component Replacement

The braking system in vehicles is complex and has many parts. These parts include the brake master cylinder, brake drums, brake fluid, brake hoses, brake calipers, and brake pads. Over time, any of these systems can wear out, and you can repair or replace them to keep your car in working condition. Common fixes for the overall brake system include replacing brake fluid hoses when they leak because of damage or use and replacing the master cylinder so that it moves brake fluid more efficiently throughout your entire system, making it easier to stop your car when you need to.

Brake or Caliper Realignment 

Throughout the lifetime of your vehicle, several factors can contribute to the misalignment of your brakes and brake calipers. These factors include manufacturing errors, potholes on the roads, minor accidents, weather-related stress, and others. Some warning signs you may notice if your calipers or brakes are misaligned include squeaking while the brakes are engaged, your vehicle pulling to the right or left, a delay in your ability to brake, or needing to apply too much pressure for your brakes to engage. A technician can repair this issue by adjusting all your brakes so they align with your tires and engage simultaneously.

During the repair process, a technician may order parts for replacement, especially if your vehicle uses specialty parts for its systems. Most service and repair shops in Palo Alto can fix your vehicle, regardless of its make and model, so you have access to easy and relatively inexpensive repairs. Keeping your inspections up to date and ensuring you make all repairs you need to can help you and others safe on the roads and contribute to an overall safer transportation system in Palo Alto. Call us today at (650) 353-4700.