How Your Brakes Work
Disc Brake System
Consists of a brake rotor, which is attached to the wheel, and a caliper, which holds the disc pads. When you push on the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder causes a piston in the caliper to force the disc pads to clamp down on the rotor. This creates the friction to slow or stop your vehicle.
Drum Brake System
Consists of a brake drum attached to the wheel, a wheel cylinder and brake shoes. When you push on the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder causes the wheel cylinder to force the brake shoes against the drum. This creates the friction to slow or stop your vehicle.
Parking Brake System
Uses cables to mechanically apply the brakes (usually the rear). This is used to prevent the vehicle from rolling when not being driven. Anti-Lock Brake System - Commonly know as ABS brakes, this is the most recent development in braking technology. Computer-controlled ABS brakes are designed to maintain steering control when sudden stops are made by preventing wheel lockup. In addition to all the regular components of a brake system, ABS brakes feature wheel-speed sensors. In a panic stop situation, the system pulses the brakes on and off rapidly to keep the wheels from locking-up and skidding.
Brake Repairs & Maintenance
The proper operation of the braking system is critical to the safe operation of your vehicle. In reality, it is the most important safety feature on your vehicle. We think that you should have your brakes inspected once a year by a professional technician. There are certain warning signs that of brake system trouble or wear that are usually easy to recognize:
- Do you feel your brakes pull in one direction?
- Do you have to push the pedal farther or harder than normal?
- Does the pedal feel "spongy" when you push on it?
- Do you hear squealing, grinding, scrapping or chirping noises?
- Do you smell anything different?
- Do the brakes "grab"?
- Does the pedal pulsate when you push on it?
If you experience any of these symptoms, or anything unusual, have your brake system checked promptly.
How Antilock Brake Systems Work
Most cars on the road today have some form of Antilock Brakes (ABS). Different manufactures have their own versions of ABS their values, specifications and part names will differ. If you are having a problem with the ABS on your vehicle you should always refer to the specific service and repair manuals for your vehicle.
The ABS is a four-wheel system that prevents wheel lock-up by automatically modulating the brake pressure during an emergency stop. By preventing the wheels from locking, it enables the driver to maintain steering control and to stop in the shortest possible distance under most conditions.
During normal braking, the ABS and non-ABS brake pedal feel will be the same. During ABS operation, a pulsation can be felt in the brake pedal, accompanied by a fall and then rise in brake pedal height and a clicking sound.
Vehicles with ABS are equipped with a pedal-actuated, dual-brake system. The hydraulic system consists of the following:
- ABS hydraulic control valves and electronic control unit
- Power brake booster
- Brake master cylinder
- Necessary brake tubes and hoses
The anti-lock brake system consists of the following components:
- Hydraulic Control Unit (HCU)
- Anti-lock brake control module
- Front anti-lock brake sensors / rear anti-lock brake sensors
Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) operates as follows:
- When the brakes are applied, fluid is forced from the brake master cylinder outlet ports to the HCU inlet ports. This pressure is transmitted through four normally open solenoid valves contained inside the HCU, then through the outlet ports of the HCU to each wheel.
- The primary (rear) circuit of the brake master cylinder feeds the front brakes.
- The secondary (front) circuit of the brake master cylinder feeds the rear brakes.
- If the anti-lock brake control module senses a wheel is about to lock, based on anti-lock brake sensor data, it closes the normally open solenoid valve for that circuit. This prevents any more fluid from entering that circuit.
- The anti-lock brake control module then looks at the anti-lock brake sensor signal from the affected wheel again.
- If that wheel is still decelerating, it opens the solenoid valve for that circuit.
- Once the affected wheel comes back up to speed, the anti-lock brake control module returns the solenoid valves to their normal condition allowing fluid flow to the affected brake.
- The anti-lock brake control module monitors the electromechanical components of the system.
- Malfunction of the anti-lock brake system will cause the anti-lock brake control module to shut off or inhibit the system. However, normal power-assisted braking remains.
- Loss of hydraulic fluid in the brake master cylinder will disable the anti-lock system.
- The 4-wheel anti-lock brake system is self-monitoring. When the ignition switch is turned to the RUN position, the anti-lock brake control module will perform a preliminary self-check on the anti-lock electrical system indicated by a three second illumination of the yellow ABS wanting indicator.
- During vehicle operation, including normal and anti-lock braking, the anti-lock brake control module monitors all electrical anti-lock functions and some hydraulic operations.
- Each time the vehicle is driven, as soon as vehicle speed reaches approximately 20 km/h (12 mph), the anti-lock brake control module turns on the pump motor for approximately one-half second. At this time, a mechanical noise may be heard. This is a normal function of the self-check by the anti-lock brake control module.
- When the vehicle speed goes below 20 km/h (12 mph), the ABS turns off.
- Most malfunctions of the anti-lock brake system and traction control system, if equipped, will cause the yellow ABS warning indicator to be illuminated.