Are your brakes squeaking, pulsating, grinding, soft, and/or squealing continuously? It’s time to get them serviced! All these noises mean different things, and our experienced technicians at Clark Automotive Clinic, located in Blaine, MN will help you identify the source of complaint, and get you back on the road at the most affordable prices. We will never oversell service, and promise to give you our honest opinion of only what needs to be done. Check our service blogs often to learn more about your vehicle and to keep her running year after year safely for you and your family.
Brake Services offered:
- Bleed, Fill and Adjust Brakes
- Rotor and Drum Resurfacing
- Caliper Reconditioning and Replacement
- Wheel Cylinder Replacement
- New Master Cylinders
- Brake Line Repair and Replacement
- New Brake Hoses
- ABS Diagnosis and Repair
- Power Boosters
- Parking Brake Service and Repair
Understanding Brake Calipers
As motor vehicle technology has evolved over the years, brake systems have gradually transitioned from the drum style brakes to disc brake systems once found only in race cars. Even today’s economy cars have disc brakes in the front wheels. The brake caliper is basically a hydraulic clamp that puts force on your brake pads, which create friction against the rotors in order to slow and stop your vehicle. The more force you put on the brake pedal, the more friction applied, and the faster you stop. Of course, you can push too hard, beyond your braking threshold, and lock the wheels, at which point the tires cannot do the work of gripping the road, and your vehicle suddenly lurches forward. Luckily if your car possesses an Antilock Brake System (ABS), this will alleviate some of that operator error and help shorten your stopping distance.
Understanding Caliper Pistons
Calipers create force on the brake pads by utilizing pistons which are operated by hydraulics via the master cylinder and your brake lines with hydraulic brake fluid. The number of pistons are determined by brake size, and caliper type. There are two types of calipers: floating and fixed. Floating calipers have at minimum just one piston on the inside of the brake, when activated creates pressure on both sides of the caliper because the caliper is floating on a pin. Fixed calipers require pistons on both sides of the caliper in order to put pressure on both pads, but have more gripping power. Modern calipers vary much in terms of size, stopping power, and performance. They can range from a single piston floating setup, to a 6 piston truck caliper like those found on the Toyota Tundra or Ford F-150, to 12 piston setups found on performance cars.
Understanding Hanging Pistons
The most common failure on brake calipers are hanging pistons. If your vehicle is pulling to the right or the left while attempting to travel in a straight line, it could be caused by hanging pistons. This is when the piston(s) fail to retract once your let up on the brake pedal, and the brakes are still engaged. A variety of factors can cause hanging pistons. Pistons are actually housed in a screw-type housing. Excessively warn pads will cause the pistons to “unscrew” to the point of no return. Also because the pistons are moving parts, rust, dirt, debris, and age could cause them to decrease travel and eventually seize.
This is a bad problem, as your brake pads are in continual contact with the rotors, causing excessive heat buildup, and in turn excessive wear on the pads, as well as the eventuality of warped rotors at best, and broken calipers at highway speeds at worse. If you suspect you have a hang piston(s), be sure to stop in and have us inspect your brakes. Brake inspections are free. It’s the safest thing to do if you suspect any issues with your brake system.
Call Clark Automotive today at 763-784-7944 if you need your vehicle’s brakes serviced or have questions.