It’s official: we’re a society of commuters, with the average American stuck behind the wheel for about 60 minutes a day—that's a lot of time listening to bad AM radio. It also adds up to a lot of miles in stop-and-go traffic and other driving conditions that continuously wear on your brakes with each tap of the pedal. But, what’s behind the pedal? Simple: disc brakes. And, it’s a system that’s a lot easier to understand and maintain than you might think.
Disc brakes are a two-part brake system made up of a disc, or rotor, and a brake caliper assembly. The caliper assembly contains hydraulic pistons which push against the back of the brake pads, clamping them together around the spinning rotor. The harder they clamp together, the more friction is generated. More friction leads to more heat, creating the transfer of kinetic energy which acts to slow down the vehicle. You never know when you’ll need to stop on a dime. So when it comes to your brake system, keep an eye on the following three components.
Brake pads wear out. It’s a fact of life. But at the first sign of noise, you want to get them checked. Squealing brakes usually indicate that you’ve worn through the brake pads and are now working on your rotors…and a hefty repair bill. Ceramic brake pads make the ideal replacement. They’re forged from copper and result in less wear than their steel counterparts through a more effective heat transfer. They also cool faster, last longer and are virtually silent, generating sound outside the range of human hearing. Plus, the dust created by ceramic brake pads is light in color, keeping your wheels from collecting that black chalky discoloration.
Next to brake pads, brake lines are the second most important component when it comes to slowing your vehicle. Easily damaged by those inadvertent forays across a center divide or punctured by debris flying up from the roadway, broken or leaky brake lines fail to deliver the proper amount of hydraulic fluid into the brake system, causing a lessened (and sometimes complete lack of) response.
Heat is the number one corruptor of brake performance. In the business, it’s known as “brake fade.” You’ve probably noticed the pedal becomes soft or non-responsive after driving long distances or braking down a steep decline. The added friction causes your brakes to overheat and fail. Performance brakes are the solution.
Slotted rotors, like those found on a racecar, keep your brakes cool under heavy operation by allowing heated gases to escape. They also keep your brakes from becoming waterlogged in wet weather by allowing water to move more freely through the holes for increased performance, added bite and more powerful braking than you’ll find in stock components.
In fact, performance brakes are so effective they’ve been proven to run 50 to 200 degrees cooler than stock brake parts. This adds up to serious savings for both the life of your brakes and your budget.
Whether you’re in the market for performance brakes, a brake caliper assembly or just a brake pad or two, finding the parts you need for a do-it-yourself replacement is a lot easier than you might think. And if you need additional advice just remember: we’re here to help.