When it comes to taking care of the brakes on your vehicle, many people are familiar with the terms brake pads and rotors. However, these are not the only components that make up your brake system, which is why it is important to understand all the various components that comprise your system.
Component #1: Brake Rotors
The terms discs and rotors refer to the same component on your vehicle. This is one of the primary components of your brake system. The pads make contact with the rotors, which is what causes your car to slow down or come to a stop.
How long your rotors last depends on how you drive and the type of rotors you have installed. Once they start to develop grooves on them, they need to be replaced. You can get some extra mileage out of them by having your rotors resurfaced, which eliminates any grooves that have developed.
Component #2: Brake Pads
The second component most people know about is the brake pads. The pad presses against the rotor and helps to stop your vehicle. The mileage you can get from the pads depends on the material they are made from.
You may be able to get anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 miles from a set of pads. Usually, a brake warning sensor will come on when the pads get worn down or you will hear the infamous squeaking sound when you press on your brakes as they wear away.
Component #3: Brake Calipers
The calipers are like a clamp that holds the brake pads in place and contains the system's pistons and fluid. The caliper help creates the friction necessary for your rotors and disc to slow your vehicle down. Calipers are generally designed to last for the life of a car; however, if your car is getting close to 75,000 miles, you may need to replace them.
Component #4: Brake Pistons
The pistons are designed to press against the pads and are located inside of the calipers. They are powered by brake fluid, and it is common to have one or two pistons on each brake.
If you have to replace your calipers, you will generally need to replace the pistons as well. You can tell the pistons need to be replaced when you notice brake fluid leaking near your tires.
Component #5: Brake Fluid
Brake fluid is used to help activate your brake pistons. The fluid helps the pistons put enough pressure on the pads to stop when they come into contact with the rotors.
The fluid should be flushed and replaced regularly. The lines that carry the fluid usually last a long time; however, the line's rubber portions can break down.
It is essential to understand the various components that make up your brake system so that when you get a brake service, you can talk to the mechanic about the system's condition and make smart repair decisions.