Your vehicle’s braking system is its most important safety feature. A properly working brake system provides safe vehicle control under a variety of conditions. So, whether you have semi-metallic or ceramic brakes, we’ll explain the difference and what to look out for to help maintain your brake system.
SLOW DOWN AND LEARN THE BASICS OF BRAKE OPERATION
The basic description of brake system operation is that when the driver presses the brake pedal, the vehicle should slow down and stop. But it’s a little more complex than that (we promise not to make it too complicated). Vehicle manufacturers take all driving conditions into account when designing a braking system. When the driver presses the brake pedal, the hydraulic fluid, generally referred to as brake fluid, is pressurized via a device known as the master cylinder. This pressurized fluid passes through the brake lines and hoses to the cylinders positioned next to the brake assemblies at each wheel. Generally speaking, there are two types of braking systems – disc brakes or drum brakes. That doesn’t seem too daunting – let’s take a closer look.
Disc brakes, the most common type of braking system, consist of a metallic disc or rotor, a caliper and a set of pads. When the brake pedal is pressed, hydraulic fluid passes through the lines causing the caliper piston(s) to press the pads against the disc/rotor. The application of the pads against the disc/rotor generates friction, causing the vehicle to slow.
Drum brakes use a similar, but unique, system. Drum brakes consist of a brake drum and brake shoes. As with the disc brake operation, when the brake pedal is pressed, hydraulic fluid passes through the lines causing (and here is where drum differs from disc operation) a wheel cylinder to push the brake shoes against the inner surface of the brake drum, generating friction, causing the vehicle to slow. On modern vehicles, there are typically two different types of brake pad materials used – either metallic or ceramic. Read on to learn more.
As the name implies, these are metallic pads made of metal fibers such as iron or steel wire held together with a graphite bonding agent. These metallic components usually make up about 30-65% of the brake pad wear material. Because metallic brake pads are relatively harder than organic brake pads, they provide greater stopping power – a nice benefit to have when talking about brakes. One drawback of this brake pad design is the increased wear they can cause on brake discs/rotors. Harder pads can also create more noise.
This pad design is made of ceramic materials that are better at dispersing heat generated by braking friction, which help prevent them from wearing down. One drawback of this pad design is the heat created during brake operation. The excessive heat the disc/rotor is subjected to can lead to warping. While ceramic pads can be more expensive, they are typically also lighter, quieter, better suited for more aggressive driving (not that you would do that) and produce the least amount of brake dust of any type of brake pad.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN EVEN MORE
Following your vehicle manufacturer’s brake material recommendations allows you to retain “as designed” braking performance. Consistent, timely brake inspections and service helps ensure this goal. Brake systems are subjected to normal wear and tear just like every part of a vehicle which means they are eventually going to require servicing. It is important to avoid letting your brakes get to the point of being completely worn out, causing a metal against metal situation. In addition to a reduction in braking ability, this can lead to more expensive damage to discs/rotors or drums.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK OUT FOR?
Below are a few important signs of brake system issues to be mindful of:
Vehicle pulling to one side during braking
Pulsating brake pedal or steering wheel shakes while braking
Brake pedal feels weak or soft
Any unusual noise when pressure to the brake pedal is applied
Repeated need for added brake fluid
Brake fluid leaks
Unusual odor or smoke caused by friction
JIFFY LUBE® BRAKE SERVICES
From brake pads to brake fluid, Jiffy Lube provides the services you need to help keep your vehicle’s stopping power responsive and reliable. When you visit Jiffy Lube you can expect the following during your visit:
Technicians will ask the right questions to qualify your driving style
A complete visual inspection of your vehicle’s brakes will be performed (wheels on)
A more thorough brake inspection is performed if a tire rotation is performed
Brake service recommendations will be presented to you based on this visual inspection
In some cases, a more complete inspection may be recommended
As needed, your brake system will be serviced by our highly trained technicians
Your vehicle will be test driven before and after the brake service
But Jiffy lube won't stop there. A complete brake system diagnosis will be performed to ensure that when your vehicle is returned to you, it is performing “as designed”. Jiffy Lube services include:
1. BRAKE FLUID EXCHANGE
To help your brake system work efficiently and safely, visit Jiffy Lube for a brake fluid exchange. Brake fluid is an integral part of the braking system, used to transfer force under pressure to create the braking power necessary to stop your vehicle. Over time, the fluid may become compromised by moisture and other contaminants, and the performance of your brake system can suffer. Jiffy Lube will perform a visual inspection of your vehicle’s brake system, drain and properly dispose of used brake fluid and replace it with brake fluid that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. That sounds pretty good!
2. BRAKE INSPECTION
Avoiding costly repairs and maintaining your peace of mind begins with regular brake inspections. Jiffy Lube will perform a visual inspection of your brake system, measure the brake pads and provide service recommendations. It is generally recommended that brakes be inspected with regular tire rotations – about once or twice a year – based on most tire manufacturer recommendations.
3. BRAKE REPLACEMENT
Jiffy Lube provides brake replacement without stopping your day. Whether you need pads, shoes, discs/rotors or drums, a Jiffy Lube brake service helps get your vehicle’s brake system back to manufacturer specifications. If you’re hearing abnormal sounds or experiencing unusual stops, it’s a good idea to have your brakes inspected immediately. As in “right now”!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Never take a break from caring about your vehicle’s brake system as this is one of the most important systems when it comes to safety. At Jiffy Lube, technicians follow manufacturer’s recommendations and use components that meet or exceed manufacturer specifications. Trusting your vehicle to the technicians at Jiffy Lube helps ensure you stay on the road without missing a beat.