Is it time to change my brakes?

Brakes perform a vital function for the driver and need to be well maintained to work at their best. The brake caliper, brake pads, and brake rotor are the primary components of car disc brake systems. The brake pads and rotors on all cars wear out, but brake wear down is affected by several factors.Driving habits: How hard a driver pushes their brakes greatly affects how long the brake pads last. Some drivers ride the brakes and stop abruptly, while others gently coast to a stop. Smooth, gradual braking increases pad lifespan, but of course it’s important to brake abruptly when safety calls for it.

Environment:

Due to stop-and-go traffic and traffic lights, driving in the city is harder on brakes than driving out in the country or on long straight roads because braking is required less frequently. Driving in mountainous areas with steep elevation changes can wear brakes out quickly as well, because it’s often necessary to ride the brakes to control downhill speed.

Brake pad hardness:

Brake pads are available in different compounds to suit different driving needs. Hard compound brake pads last longer but usually need to be warm before they perform well, and are more common on performance cars. Soft compound brake pads perform better at low speeds, like in urban areas. Too much heat can melt pad compound onto the brake rotor and reduce brake performance if the driving gets too extreme.

Materials:

The materials that make up the brake rotor and brake pad also factor into the brakes’ durability. Carbon-ceramic brakes last longer than standard metal brakes, for instance, but they need to be warmer than the alternative to be effective. However, carbon-ceramic brakes are extremely expensive and found almost exclusively on high-performance sports cars. Steel or other metal brakes are much more common and still more than adequate to suit a variety of driving conditions.

How to tell if your brakes need replacing

  • Generally, brake pads need to be replaced after about 50,000 miles. Some need to be replaced after 25,000, while others can last for 70,000 miles – it all depends on the factors listed above. To get a more accurate number for your car’s specific needs, consult the owner’s manual. There are other indicators that can communicate that the brake pads are wearing out. These include:
  • Whenever the tires are rotated or the oil is changed, have the mechanic take a look at the brake pads to check the thickness. Inspect regularly.
  • Brake pads have small metal hairs at the very bottom to let the driver know when they are about to run out of grippy material. Immediately replace any brake pad making a squealing or scraping noise.
  • If braking becomes jittery then the rotors may be warped. Some treatments can either clean or grind down the surface of the rotor in order to make it flat again.

Generally, if the brakes look worn out or lose performance, they should be replaced. If there are any unusual noises or sparks coming from the brakes, have them inspected by your Local AMMCO Minnesota Technicians.

Come to AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Repairs & Maintenance

You need an experienced automotive technician who can diagnose the problem and honestly tell you what needs to be done when something is wrong with your car.

If you have questions about your car’s exhaust, engine, transmission, repair or maintenance needs, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Stop by or call a local AAMCO Minnesota repair shop for a Multi Point Vehicle Inspection of your transmission and related systems. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from brakes and oil changes to factory recommended maintenance and full transmission replacements.

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Find a Location Near You

AAMCO Minnesota Transmission shops are locally owned and operated.

 
AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty at AAMCO Minneapolis, MN. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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What Is an Automatic Braking System

AAMCO Minnesota Knows Brakes

At AAMCO Minnesota our mission is to repair and maintain your car – from transmissions to electrical systems, oil changes to mufflers. We do it all so you don’t have to. One of our specialties is brakes. The technology that keeps you safe and on the move – and able to safely stop – in your car is continuously improving, and at AAMCO Minnesota we strive to keep you informed.

Computers Control the Brakesimage - computer scan and monitoring of automobile systems

Do you know someone who always steps on the imaginary brake pedal when they are in the passenger seat? Well, Automatic Braking Systems are computerized versions of that, but without the anxiety and annoying reactions to your driving. These computerized systems are automobile safety features designed to detect how far and fast the vehicle in front of you is moving, and automatically apply your car’s brakes if you do not respond in time to a sudden braking situation. The automatic braking system works to reduce the chance of a crash, as well as reduce the severity of a collision if it occurs.

Automatic braking systems are called different things, but the concept is the same.

Technically, the concept is two systems working together: forward collision warning and automatic breaking.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW)

If a collision seems to be imminent, a Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system gives an audible warning which allows the driver time to take action and possibly prevent an accident. It is strictly a warning system only, and does not take any automated measures, such as applying the brakes, to avoid or mitigate a collision.

Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM)

A Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) system will warn the driver and slow the vehicle simultaneously. FCM should not be confused with Forward Collision Warning (FCW). A warning system will only warn the driver, but not take any automatic action to mitigate – reduce the chances or effects of – a collision. An FCM will automatically apply the vehicle’s brakes as the computer calculates the situation.

Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA)

Complete avoidance of a collision is the goal of a Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) system. This approach is obviously the most challenging, and is probably more semantic than realistic. People like to think of avoiding a collision, so a system named as such is bound to sell better than one that simply says it will reduce the severity of a collision. Ideally, an FCA system tries to get you out of a collision altogether using technology such as automatic braking and even assisted steering. But let’s face it, you’re probably still going to crash; however, the system will make it less severe.

Systems Working Together

An automatic braking system is actually several systems that work together to achieve one of two things: collision avoidance or collision mitigation. Sensors detect and deliver situational data to a computer that calculates what is needed to brake in time and either avoid or mitigate a collision.

Automatic braking systems use laser, radar, and/or cameras to monitor driving speed and detect objects in the vehicle’s path. Some of these systems can even evaluate road conditions, such as rain or snow, and include them in their continuous calculations that allow them to be constantly on guard and prepared for a short stopping situation or possible collision.

What kind of sensors and data does the system use?

Forward collision warning and avoidance systems use radar, video, infrared and/or ultrasonic sensors to scan for possible objects in front of the vehicle, and then use automatic brake controls to prevent or mitigate a collision Elements calculated include speed, distance, conditions, and braking pressure.

Do Automatic Braking Systems Really Work?

How well these systems work has been proven through extensive track testing and actual use in a number of cars in production in the United States. Europe has seen increasing use of automatic braking systems for several years, and has mandated them in all new cars since 2015. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has made it a requirement that in order to get top safety scores, a car must have a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking.

Not all systems are the same, as different carmakers utilize different technologies and techniques to accomplish their mission of braking safety and collision warning and mitigation or avoidance. Additionally, false alerts might cause drivers to ignore the systems’ warnings, or shut the systems off altogether. But overall, the effectiveness of these systems have been proven and are here to stay – and will be standard on all cars in the U.S. by 2022.

Are The Brakes Different?image - disc brakes. assembly on a modern automobile

The mechanics of the brakes themselves are the same as on cars without automatic braking systems. Whether the driver or a computer decides the car needs to slow down or stop, the same basic parts and principles are used to actually stop your car.

  1. Brake pedal is pushed (or computer calculates and activates pressure to the piston – step 2).
  2. Piston pushes fluid to master cylinder.
  3. Master cylinder pushes fluid to slave cylinders.
  4. Slave cylinders fill and push pistons out.
  5. Pistons push calipers with brake pads.
  6. Brake pads grip rotors (discs) attached to wheels.
  7. Friction between brake pads and rotors slows wheels.
  8. Car slows down and stops.

Rotors, calipers, and brake pads are still used and still need to be checked, replaced on a regular maintenance schedule.

AAMCO Minnesota for Brake Service and Repairs

Whether your car has an automatic braking system or not, you can count on AAMCO to service and repair your brakes so your car is safe and reliable. If you have questions about your car’s brakes, road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Come to AAMCO Minnesota for a Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection for your transmission and related systems. We’ll winterize your car and get you ready for the cold, snowy winter driving months ahead. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from brakes to factory recommended maintenance.


Related Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

How Brakes Work

There are three principles of braking – leverage, hydraulics, and friction – that encompass the eight basic steps of how your car’s brakes work wonders every time you step on the brake pedal. [Read more…]

Anti-Lock Brakes – More Than Just a Better Way to Stop

Anti-lock brakes, also known as anti-lock braking system (ABS), have become a standard feature on cars, but they weren’t even originally invented for cars. They were invented in 1929 in France by Gabriel Voisin to help planes more smoothly apply brakes on landing and shorten the distance needed to come to a stop. Today it is an automobile safety system that is mandatory on all new passenger vehicles. [Read more…]

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AAMCO Transmissions & Auto Repair Shops

Locally Owned & Operated

 
AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty at AAMCO Minneapolis, MN. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

Write a Review

AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

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How Brakes Work

Brakes Explained

At AAMCO Minnesota our mission is to fix and maintain your car – from transmissions to electrical systems, oil changes to mufflers. We do it all so you don’t have to. One of our specialties is brakes.

What it Takes to Stop Your Car

Everyone knows that brakes stop your car. But have you ever wondered what it takes to bring your car to a smooth, safe stop just by pushing the brake pedal? There are three principles of braking – leverage, hydraulics, and friction – that encompass the eight basic steps of how your car’s brakes work wonders every time you step on the brake pedal.

Leverage

Your car’s brakes use leverage. The brake pedal is designed to act as a lever in order to magnify the force from your leg before it is transmitted to the brake fluid. When you press on the brake pedal the system transmits and multiplies the force to the wheels using friction. The tires transmit that friction force to the road, which results in your car slowing down. So, with all that leverage, if you stomp on the brake pedal, the whole process happens very quickly and you end up leaving rubber on the road – and risk going into a skid and losing control. Fortunately, modern brake systems have anti-lock mechanisms that pump the brakes faster than any human could and help you maintain control; but skid marks and damage to your tires can still happen.

Hydraulics

A car’s brake system uses hydraulics. Force applied from the pedal pushes a piston into the master cylinder, forcing brake fluid through a pipe. Fluid pressure is distributed evenly throughout the system to the four wheels. The brake fluid flows to slave cylinders at each wheel, forcing pistons down the cylinders at the wheels. The cylinders at the brakes on the wheels are larger than the cylinder at the brake pedal, which means the force is multiplied far beyond the original push of your leg.

Frictionimage - close-up of automobile disc brake

Friction is the key product of the car’s brakes. It is the force that does the stopping. The slave cylinder pistons are forced down through the cylinders to close the calipers. This applies the brake pads to the rotors – or discs – attached to the wheel hub. All of this is designed to create friction and slow the wheels.

How Brakes Work in 8 Easy Steps

In eight steps your car’s brakes go through a process of combined leverage,  hydraulics, and friction to bring your car to a safe, controlled stop.

  1. Brake pedal is pushed.
  2. Piston pushes fluid to master cylinder.
  3. Master cylinder pushes fluid to slave cylinders.
  4. Slave cylinders fill and push pistons out.
  5. Pistons push calipers with brake pads.
  6. Brake pads grip rotors (discs) attached to wheels.
  7. Friction between brake pads and rotors slows wheels.
  8. Car slows down and stops.

The combined pressure, or force, of the slave pistons is greater than that of the piston in the master cylinder. The master piston only has to move a few inches in order to push the slave pistons a fraction of an inch. This whole system creates a lot of force – enough to stop an entire car – even though all the driver has to do is push a pedal.

AAMCO Minnesota for Brake Service and Repairs

Now that you’ve got the basics down, did you know the front brakes do more work in stopping your car than the rear brakes? This is due to simple physics – when you brake, the weight of the car shifts forward. Many cars have disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on the rear because disc brakes are more efficient than drum brakes. Four-wheel disc brakes are usually found on high performance and some AWD drive cars. Whatever you drive, you can count on AAMCO to service and repair your brakes so your car is safe and reliable. If you have questions about your car’s brakes, road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Come to AAMCO Minnesota for a Multi Point Vehicle Courtesy Check for your transmission and related systems. We’ll winterize your car and get you ready for the cold, snowy winter driving months ahead. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from brakes to factory recommended maintenance.

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Checklist for Preparing Your Car for Winter

Take the Fear Out of Transmission Repair

Watch this video and learn why there is only one place to go – AAMCO. We’re the transmission experts with over 50 years of experience rebuilding and replacing transmissions, and all their 800 pieces. We’ve fixed over 40 million transmissions – way more than our competitors. And we offer a lifetime warranty. image - screenshot - still of transmission in midair coming apart into 800 piecesBecause we have the skill to fix an 800-piece transmission, we can easily fix the rest of your car – brakes, shocks, mufflers, even your engine. Lots of things can make your engine light come on. Today it can be hard to tell what’s wrong with your car, especially if it’s your transmission. Our technicians are trained to keep up with the complex engineering of today’s cars. So, next time something goes wrong with your transmission or any other part of your car, bring it to your local AAMCO.

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