Brake Repair Tips

Brake repair is never as easy as you think it should be. No matter whether you do the work yourself or have it done by a mechanic. There are a few things you should know about the process beforehand. First and foremost, spend the money for quality parts and make sure the job is done right. When you're only concerned with getting to where you need to be, the last thing you should have to worry about is stopping when you get there.


Are generic brake pads as good as name brand brake pads?

Maybe, sometimes, but why risk it? When the brake pad manufacturer puts their name on the box, they are standing behind their product. Naturally, it is fairly safe to assume it is a good, quality product. If you buy generic brake pads in a plain "unmarked" usually yellow or white box, there is just no way to be sure. There is nobody to be held accountable if they don't hold up. You only have to change the brake pads every 40,000 miles or so when you use good quality pads. Is it really worth taking a chance on something so important to save what amounts to around $10 a year?


Are ceramic brake pads better than semi-metallic brake pads?

Not necessarily. They generally don't last any longer or work better. In fact, when you often drive in stop-and-go traffic or use your vehicle to do heavy hauling, the semi-metallic pads are preferable. They do a better job of stopping your vehicle and last a little longer than ceramic pads. If you have nice aluminum wheels on your car, though, and aren't hard on your brakes, you might prefer the ceramic pads. They don't give off metal brake dust and tend to be quieter.


Are generic rotors as good as premium rotors?

No, they usually aren't. There is a reason they are cheaper. Generic rotors are usually thinner, commonly weighing about 20% less than premium rotors. If you hold a premium rotor and a generic rotor side by side, you will be able to see the difference. Keep in mind that your brakes get incredibly hot. An inferior rotor can't stand up to the heat. Before long, they will warp and wear out. When you have to shell out the money to replace your rotors, it is well worth it to spend the extra money for premium rotors that will take the heat.

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Why do my brakes make a loud popping noise when I brake at slow speeds?

That noise happens when your calipers dry out after you park your car and they cool. The noise is your caliper popping loose when you apply the brakes. Preventing this is very easy. Wire brush or sand off any built-up brake dust or dirt from the calipers before you reassemble them when you change your brake pads. After sanding or brushing, apply a little hi-temperature caliper grease to the moving parts then reassemble the brakes.


Why are my brakes making a clicking noise when I stop?

If you had your rotors turned or machined, instead of replaced, and they are making a clicking sound when you apply the brakes, they weren't done properly. When you look closely at them, they probably have tiny grooves in them like an old vinyl record. You might also have a little shimmy in the steering as you come to a stop. Take the car back to the shop that turned the rotors and have them fix the problem.


Why would my brakes make a squealing sound after I just changed the pads?

The squeal is caused when brake dust is embedded in the brake pads. The brake dust accumulates on the rotors over time. If it isn't cleaned off prior to putting the new pads on, it will get worked into them when you apply the brakes. Clean the rotors thoroughly before you install the new brake pads. The only way to get the dust off is good old dish soap and a sturdy sponge. Scrub and rinse the rotors then wipe them off with a clean rag and some lacquer thinner. The lacquer thinner will remove any residue and dry quickly.


Do I have to replace the brake calipers?

If the piston on the brake caliper no longer retracts or there is fluid leaking from the caliper, it needs to be replaced. If it is basically in good shape, but the sliding pins are binding up, the caliper can be reused. All you need to do is replace the slide pins. Be sure to lubricate the pins with high-temperature grease before you install them.

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