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Understand Your Brake System

June 11th, 2015
Brake Repair in Houston, TXThe basics of automotive brake systems haven’t changed much for decades, but it can still be enough to confuse many drivers. We run across many drivers who come in for brake repair in Houston, TX who have lots of questions about their brake systems, so we’d like to clear a few things up.
First, remember that everything in your brake system operates on hydraulic pressure. Imagine taking a tablespoon of water in your cupped hand and trying to throw it as far as you can. Now, take that same tablespoon and put it in a syringe or a squirt gun. The squirt gun, of course, is going to deliver the water farther, as it can put more pressure behind the water. That’s the essence of how hydraulics work, and any problems with the system can result in brake repair in Houston, TX.
When you step on your car’s brake pedal, and a rod actuates the master cylinder, which is mounted on the firewall just in front of the passenger compartment. The master cylinder is a reservoir for brake fluid and is connected to the front and rear brake lines. During braking, it delivers hydraulic pressure to the wheels, each of which have their own cylinder that activates the disc brake pads. 
To understand disc brakes, think of handbrakes on a bicycle; two pads grip the spinning wheel and slow it down via friction. Automotive disc brakes operate much the same way. Behind each wheel is a smooth steel disc (or “rotor”) and a caliper that mounts on it. Each caliper has two semi-metallic pads, one of which has a piston behind it; when hydraulic pressure activates the piston, the pads close and drag on the rotor, slowing the vehicle down. At McIntyre Automotive, we check and replace brake pads as part of brake repair in Houston, TX.
Older vehicles used drum brakes, and many vehicles on the road still have drums in back. In these systems, there’s a drum behind your car’s wheels; when you apply the brakes, the wheel cylinder moves two semicircular pads which expand inside the drum and drag on its lining, slowing the vehicle down. 
Since the 90s, most cars have featured antilock braking systems (ABS). In an ABS system, electronic sensors monitor the speed of each spinning wheel and send information back to a processor. If the processor senses that a wheel is on the verge of locking up and skidding, it meters braking effort (via a pump and valves) to the four wheels for even, safe braking performance to all wheels. 
We hope that clears up any misconceptions or confusion you may have about how automotive brake systems operate. The next time you’re needing brake repair in Houston, TX, we hope you’ll come to us at McIntyre Automotive -- make an appointment and our service advisors will be happy to help!
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