Maintenance of brakes and brake repair
You should not attempt DIY brake repair unless you are a competent mechanic, these are safety critical parts of your car but having said that there are various inexpensive instructional DVD’s out there to help you achieve this work with reasonable safety. First you need to diagnose what the problem is. Maybe your brake pads are just worn or you are experiencing brake vibration which have different needs.
Brake repair falls into two main categories within the reach of a DIY mechanic and these are the replacement of the brake rotor or the brake pads or simply topping off the brake fluid.
When brake pads are worn to beyond their service limit their performance will quickly deteriorate and could result in total loss of brakes. Jacking up the car and looking into the brake caliper will quickly show whether there is friction material left on the brake pad backing plates. Look to have at least 5 mm or 3/16th of an inch of friction material left on each pad and check all four pads both front and rear as sometimes one pad on the piston side wears more than the opposite side. If the car has not seen regular brake maintenance it is possible that the pad wear has been accelerated by a seized caliper and this is a more complicated brake repair to undertake. Replacing the pads is quite straight forward, locate the components you need for your vehicle before starting the brake repair and replacement of the pads or rotor. Inspect the brake rotor also before commencing the brake maintenance as it is wise to replace all worn parts at the same time. Brake rotors should be inspected for wear or heavy scoring and replaced if below their service limits.
Worn brake rotors are usually detectable by a lip on the outer and inner edges of the rotor at the limit of where the brake pad contacts. If you have deep wear patterns on your brake rotor, either replace it or you may save money by taking the vehicle to a brake shop and having the rotors turned. The best type of lathe to use is an on car brake lathe and where to find one of those is shown on this link. Pep Boys Pro-Cut center Locator.
The brake repair should be conducted in a safe garage or driveway location, never on a public road for safety reasons and the vehicle wheels should all be chocked to prevent the car rolling or falling off the vehicle jack. Always “Chock” the vehicle will an axle stand or at as a minimum use one of the wheels removed under a sturdy part of the suspension near where you are working in case the jack lets go as serious injury may occur. After the brake repair don’t forget to check and tighten all nuts and hardware and road test the vehicle in a safe quiet street and test the brakes. If you notice any strange noises check them out or take the vehicle to a qualified brake repair shop for a further opinion.
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