Vancouver Brake Shop
Our ASE-certified technicians take professionalism to the next level by offering courteous and knowledgeable service to all of our customers. Continually striving to master every aspect of automotive care, ASE technicians follow Motorist Assurance Program Uniform Inspection Guidelines for your vehicle’s braking system to assure safe, smooth driving.
When your mechanic is wearing the ASE patch, don’t expect to get to know him—you won’t be back in a long time! That’s because our ASE technicians do the job right the first time. They inspect the following braking components:
- Disc brake rotors and pads
- Calipers and hardware
- Brake drums and shoes
- Wheel cylinders
- Return springs
- Master cylinder
- Brake fluid and hoses
- Power booster
Your vehicle’s brake system is a culmination of over 100 years of technological innovation, transforming crude stopping mechanisms into dependable and efficient equipment. While brake systems vary by make and model, the basic system consists of disc brakes in front and either disk or drum brakes in back. Connected by a series of tubes and hoses, your brakes link to each wheel and to the master cylinder, which supply them with vital brake fluid (hydraulic fluid).
We can summarize all of your braking equipment into two categories, Hydraulics and Friction Material:
The master cylinder is like a pressure converter. When you press down on the brake pedal (physical pressure), the master cylinder converts this to hydraulic pressure, and brake fluid moves into the wheel brakes.
Brake Lines and Hoses:
Brake lines hoses deliver pressurized brake fluid to the braking unit(s) at each wheel.
Wheel Cylinders and Calipers:
Wheel Cylinders surrounded by two rubber-sealed pistons connect the piston with the brake shoe. Push the brakes and the pistons stop and the shoes pushes into the drum. Calipers squeeze brake pads onto the rotor to stop your car. Both components apply pressure to friction materials.
Disc Brake Pads and Drum Brake Shoes:
A disc brake uses fluid (released by the master cylinder) to force pressure into a caliper, where it presses against a piston. The piston then squeezes two brake pads against the rotor, forcing it to stop. Brake shoes consist of a steel shoe with friction material bonded to it.
How It Comes Together:
When you first step on the brake pedal, you are triggering the release of brake fluid into the system of tubes and hoses, which travel to the braking unit at each wheel. You actually push against a plunger in the master cylinder, releasing fluid. Brake fluid can’t be compressed. It moves through the network of tubes and hoses in the exact same motion and pressure that initiated it. When it comes to stopping a heavy steel machine at high speed, this consistency is a good thing. The performance of your brakes can be affected when air gets into the fluid; since air can compress, it creates sponginess in the pedal, which disrupts consistency, and results in bad braking efficiency. “Bleeder screws” (located at each wheel cylinder) remove unwanted air in your system.
A car without functioning brakes is dangerous. In many cases, warning signs will tell you if your car’s brakes may need service.
Warning signs include:
- Squealing or grinding noises when using brakes. This could mean your brakes need to be adjusted or that your brake pads are worn and need replacement.
- Your dashboard’s Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) light turns on. This indicates that your brake fluid is low. You may have a leak in your brake line. Get it inspected.
- While braking, your car pulls to one side. This means that your brakes need adjustment, there is brake fluid leakage, or your brakes are worn out and need replacement.
- Your brakes are hard to press down or feel “spongy.” Usually this means air has gotten into your brake lines or you may have low brake fluid.
- When applying your brakes, your steering wheel, brake pedal, or entire vehicle begins to shake. If this happens, your brake rotors could be warped and need replacement.
When you notice any brake warning signs, contact our professional staff by phone, or email, immediately and we’ll take care of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
An illuminated brake light should never be ignored. It can indicate a variety of different issues, from simple to urgent. Some things that can cause a brake light to come on include:
- Low brake fluid: If the vehicle’s brake fluid level is too low, it will usually cause the brake light to come on. This could mean a leak in your brake system that should be addressed right away.
- Faulty sensor: The brake light can also be illuminated due to a faulty brake fluid sensor or parking brake sensor.
- Electrical problem: An issue with your vehicle’s electrical connections or wiring can sometimes cause the illumination of the brake light.
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS) problem: Many newer vehicles have an ABS-specific warning light, but the brake light could indicate an ABS problem for those that don’t.
- The parking brake is engaged: Double-check that the parking brake is off before driving. Driving with it on can severely damage the brake system components.
If your brake light is on and you are looking for a professional brake shop, bring your vehicle to your closest Gaynor’s Automotive location today. We can expertly handle any brake services your vehicle may need.
Regularly keeping up with professional brake checks will ensure that any minor problems are caught early and will help significantly maximize your brake system’s life.
Exactly how often your vehicle will need brake service will vary. Every vehicle’s brakes wear differently depending on driving conditions, brake pad types, driving habits, etc. Generally, we recommend having a brake inspection done every 6,000 miles or every six months (whichever comes first) or if you suspect any brake problems.
Bring your vehicle into Gaynor’s Automotive—your leader in Vancouver brake services—for a brake check today!
The suggested interval for a brake fluid flush will vary depending on the specific type of vehicle and your driving habits, ranging from every two to five years or longer. Your owner’s manual will tell you the manufacturer’s recommended service interval for your vehicle.
If your brake fluid has not been flushed in a while, there are some red flags to look out for that can indicate it’s time for it to be done, including:
- An illuminated anti-lock braking system (ABS) light: In newer vehicles, this light will come on if the brake fluid level is too low or the fluid is too dirty.
- Brake pedal feels different: When brake fluid replacement is needed, the brake pedal will often feel very different when pressed. It may be tougher to press down or feel “spongy” when pressed.
- Diminished brake pad effectiveness: Dirty or low brake fluid can negatively impact the effectiveness of your brake pads. If it takes longer to stop your vehicle because your brake pads are not working as well as before, this often means that the brake fluid should be flushed.
- Unusual brake noises: Overly dirty or low brake fluid can cause odd noises, such as squealing or grinding, when braking.
- Strong burning chemical smell: A strong burning chemical smell after braking can indicate overheating brakes due to dirty or low brake fluid. If this happens, immediately pull over safely and allow the brakes to cool. If you don’t, you can overheat the brake fluid and cause your brakes to lock up completely.
We recommend having a brake system inspection at every other oil change (roughly every 6,000 miles) to ensure that your brake fluid always stays in optimal condition.
Your vehicle’s ability to stop relies heavily on the brake pads’ ability to grab the brake rotors properly. Because they’re made of metal, these rotors naturally wear down with use over time. Also, excessive heat caused by heavy braking can cause the rotors to warp.
To help restore the performance of the brake rotors, the technician will “turn” or resurface them if there’s still enough metal left to do so safely. The rotors are put on a lathe one at a time, and an extremely sharp bit cuts into the rotor to smooth the surface.
Realistically, there is no universal answer to this question. Brake pad manufacturers give a wide range for the average lifespan of the pads—anywhere from 25,000 to 65,000 miles—because driving habits and conditions can greatly influence it.
In general, brake pads often last around 40,000 miles on average. But brake pads can wear down faster when they’re subjected to braking harder from higher speeds, frequent stop-and-go traffic, or braking in hilly environments. These things will often lead to a need for more frequent brake pad replacement. The lifespan of brake pads will also vary depending on whether they are made of metallic, ceramic, or organic material.
The ASE-certified technicians here at Gaynor’s Automotive Vancouver auto repair shop can help you properly determine the best brake pads for your vehicle and driving habits, helping you to optimize your stopping power and get the most for your money.
Several types of brake pads are available for today’s vehicles: metallic, ceramic, and organic. Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages.
Metallic brake pads
- Most commonly used
- Made of a combination of bonding materials and metals
- Extremely durable
- More economical
- Good overall performance
- Good heat dissipation
Ceramic brake pads
- Designed for use in high-performance vehicles
- More lightweight
- Outstanding heat-dissipation properties
- Composed of bonding materials, ceramic, and sometimes cotton fibers
- More expensive compared to metallic brake pads
Organic brake pads
- Made up of rubber, glass, or resin
- Environmentally friendly
- High tolerance to heat
- Wear down faster than others
When trying to determine which type is best for your brake pad replacement, the answer will depend on your vehicle’s needs, your driving habits, and the cost versus value factor. Our technicians can help you determine which type is right for both your vehicle and your budget.
By practicing some good driving habits, you can help extend the life of your braking components significantly. These include:
- Using only one foot to drive: Do not brake with your left foot before completely letting off the gas pedal with your right foot. Braking while still applying any pressure to the gas pedal will put excess stress on your brake system.
- Not driving too fast: Needing to make sudden stops at high speeds is very taxing on your brake system’s components.
- Giving yourself plenty of room: Being observant and giving yourself enough time and space to brake gradually or even coast will allow the engine to decelerate naturally. This is a much gentler stopping technique for your braking system.
- Eliminating excess weight in your vehicle: Reducing any excess weight in the backseat or trunk will help reduce the braking power needed to stop your vehicle.
Regular brake inspections: Worn components cause excess stress on the rest of your brake system. So, regular brake inspections and brake pad replacement (when needed) will prevent more expensive brake repair needs in the future and help ensure your vehicle’s safety.