Your braking system is arguably one of the most important safety features of your vehicle. Brakes are what enable you to control the vehicle when slowing down, turning and coming to a stop. Without a proper functioning braking system, the vehicle is completely unsafe to drive. Here are a few important facts about car braking systems you need to know.
It is made up of the brake pads and the brake disc. These parts are what come to mind when you think of a vehicles braking mechanism. The brake pads are heat and friction resistant, they press against the wheel rotor disc that rotates as the car moves. When you step on the brakes, the hydraulic system transfers the pressure to the brake discs, which press against the wheel rotor to slow it down. The friction created can wear down the brake pads over time. This is the part of the braking system that will require the most frequent replacement. Brake pads usually need replacement after every couple of years.
The hydraulic reservoir is the heart of the braking system and what keeps your brakes working. The hydraulic reservoir is a master cylinder that is filled with brake fluid. It is mounted on the cars firewall in front of the driver’s seat. The cylinder contains a plunger that compresses the brake fluid when the driver presses on the brake pedal and transfers pressure to all the four brake discs on the wheels of the vehicle.
Regular brake service should also feature examination of the brake fluid level to ensure that the master cylinder is full. In case the cylinder is not full, the leak has to be located. Common areas for leaks include the master cylinder itself, the brake lines to the individual brakes or the hydraulic wheel cylinders.
Wheel cylinders and caliper pistons
The wheel cylinders or calipers with hydraulic piston release the pressure that causes each individual brake to press on the rotor of the wheel. They should also be examined while changing the brake pads. They may malfunction or develop leaks over time. Wheel cylinders can be refurbished with new boots, internal springs and plungers. Braking systems that use calipers may experience problems when the caliper piston freezes in place from grit and dirt. The pressure applied to the rotor becomes one-sided resulting in uneven wear of the brake discs.
Maintenance and repair of braking systems can help avoid a lot of dangerous accidents and incidents. You can find braking specialists at most auto repair shops. Get into the habit of regular maintenance. You should also call your technician for advice any time you notice unusual sounds when using your brakes or if the brake pedal becomes too easy or too hard.
When you are working with a reputable automotive repair shop, you should expect a formal repair process that is described on the company website or by the technician that you consult with. Some of the steps you should expect in an automotive repair process include:
The damage analysis of the repair process is where you should expect a lot of questions from the technician. If you are working is an experienced professional, some of the questions that they ask when you describe the process may even lead to other problems that you were just about to explain. The damage analysis may also include a visual inspection of the vehicle and computer diagnostics using new automotive technology.
From the damage analysis, the auto repair technician will develop an estimate for the expected repairs. The estimate will include details of all the problems you would like repaired in line with the damage analysis. Sometimes unexpected repairs will come up later on; the technician is obligated to call you with a new quote and request authorization before continuing with repairs. After the damage analysis, the technician will also let you know of any potential problems that may come up in the repairs.
Once you approve, the automotive repair can begin. In case there is need for replacement parts, you have the choice of choosing aftermarket parts, which are cheaper, or OEM parts, which are more costly but have a greater guarantee of quality. Your technician should give you options and advise on the best parts to use depending on the kind of repairs necessary. In case any new problems come up during the repairs, the technician will let you know.
After vehicle repair and assembly, the technician may perform a test drive around the garage keeping an eye and an ear out for the problems you had described when bringing in the vehicle in the first place. In case there are tweaks and adjustments necessary, this test drive will be the best way to know. In case everything is in place and working fine, the mechanic can put the finishing touches on the vehicle and prepare it for collection.
Payment and collection
If you are working with an automotive repair shop that is a recommended provider for your insurance, you may only need to pay the excess while the insurance company will pay out the rest in claim. Most garages will prepare a vehicle for collection by washing off all the oil and grease stains from the body of the vehicle. The vehicle can be delivered to you by a tow truck or, you can collect the vehicle yourself from the repair shop.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the non-profit organization that tests and certifies the competence of individual automotive repair technicians, knows a thing or two about selecting a vehicle repair facility.
Whether you are new in town or you are just looking for a new shop, the experts at ASE offer some guidelines to help take some of the anxiety out of your search:
Look for a repair facility before you need one; you can make better decisions when you are not rushed.
Ask friends, co-workers and associates for recommendations.
Consult local consumer organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and chambers of commerce, about the reputation of the shop. Inquire about the number, nature and resolution of complaints.
Search online for business reviews and visit the shop’s Facebook page if one is available. You can learn a lot about a business and its team by reading social media.
Look for a tidy, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays. You likely won’t find hospital-clean conditions, but consider whether the facility’s image and level of professionalism meet your needs.
Don’t make your selection based solely on location convenience.
Determine if the shop works on your vehicle make and model or performs the types of repairs you need. Some facilities specialize.
Look for signs of technician competence. The customer area should display trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced coursework and ASE certifications — a nationally recognized standard of technician competence — for all the employees.
Does the business have a sense of community? Service awards, plaques for civic involvement, customer service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups is a good indicator.
Professionally run establishments will have a courteous, helpful staff. The manager, service writer, or technician should be willing to answer your questions thoroughly.
Labor rates, fees for testing and diagnostic work, guarantees, methods of payment, etc. should be posted in the front office/waiting room.
Ask for the names of a few customers as references. Call them.
Start with a small or minor job, such as an oil change or tire rotation. Reward good service with repeat business and more complex work.
Look for the Blue Seal
ASE also recognizes some of the best automotive repair shops through its Blue Seal of Excellence program. To qualify, 75 percent of the employees at the automotive repair facility or related business must be ASE certified, covering all the areas of repair or support offered.
In addition, all facilities that employ full-time service consultants and/or estimators must have at least one who is ASE certified. Service consultants must hold current ASE Service Consultant (C1) certification, and estimators must hold current Damage Analysis & Estimating (B6) certification.