How Are Your Brakes?

The condition and remaining service life of your cars’ brakes are always an important concern.

There are many companies that produce automotive brake parts. While they all advertise themselves as being better than the other brands, you cannot do wrong by sticking with Original Equipment produced brakes. European car makers follow a different school of thought when it comes to brakes. Compared to Domestic and some Asian manufacturers, European cars such as BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes to name a few, use brakes that are made of softer compounds and milder steels. The theory is that brake pads & rotors made to these softer specs stop better than those made of harder materials which many aftermarket companies produce.

Why do my wheels get so dirty?

One problem associated with European cars is the unsightly brake dust that turns your wheels black. Using these softer compounds produces this excessive dust build up.

What causes brake noise?

Ever get tired of hearing noisy brakes? One way to eliminate the possibility of noisy brakes is by using OE brake components. Again, the aftermarket industry banks on selling their parts because they last longer than Original Equipment brakes. They achieve this by using harder materials in the manufacture of their products. Not only will the ability of your cars’ braking power be compromised but also become very noisy. These companies have made many attempts to manufacture ‘brake silencers’ to quiet down their harder brake pads. Excess build up of brake dust, or severely overheating the brakes thereby burning them, can cause them too become hardened and crystallized/glazed.

Why does my car shake when I stop?

Brake rotors are designed to handle and dissipate heat but as they wear they become thinner. The more loss of material causes the brake rotor to become hotter and stay hotter, longer. Once your brake rotors become warped they need to be discarded. Once the brake rotor becomes too thin to transfer heat properly it will compromise and accelerating pad wear also.

Why are OE brakes so expensive?

You get what you pay for…. Buy quality parts. Don’t let someone replace your brakes because they can give you a cheaper estimate. The way they do this is they install the cheapest brake pads that they can purchase. This does NOT make for a quality brake job, and pretty much defeats the purpose in you buying your European made car in the 1st place. I cannot stress this more, only use OEM brake parts on your BMW, Audi, VW Volvo, Mercedes, etc.

Do I need to have my brake fluid changed?

Volvo, a car manufacturer known for producing safe cars, recommends flushing the brakes every 30,000 miles. Lately you’ll see that car manufacturers started rewriting the service intervals. Not for safety sake, but to appease customers who want to buy a car that doesn’t need so much maintenance. Hydraulic Brake fluid, because it is hygroscopic, attracts and retains moisture. Where clean brake fluid has an extremely high boiling point the build up of moisture can cause oxidation to form, degrading the fluid. This lowers the boiling point of the fluid and decreases the lifespan of the hydraulic components of your brake system.

If you were catching a flight across the Atlantic, would you choose to ride in an airplane that has diligently had it’s hydraulic systems maintained, or one that tries to stretch their service intervals to save expenses? Isn’t this just as important in a car that your loved ones travel in?


What’s the difference between an emergency brake and a parking brake?

Older cars with drum brakes had emergency brakes. The rear brake shoes that actually stopped the car also had a mechanical linkage that would activate these rear brakes in the event of hydraulic failure. Modern cars use two methods for parking brakes now. Either the rear disc pads are coupled to a mechanical linkage which activates them, or more commonly in European cars the parking brake is a small set of shoes housed within the rear disc brake rotors. These are not intended to stop a moving vehicle, they are meant to be used as a safety device to keep your car from rolling in the event the transmission were not locked completely in park, or in gear when referring to a manual transmission vehicle.

Why do brake calipers go bad?

Not only can brake hydraulic fluid degrade and lose it’s ability to withstand boiling, but your brake calipers can seize. This happens from bimetal corrosion and can prevent the caliper from releasing the brakes. Modern materials make this corrosion less common but it does still happen. Cars that sit for long periods are more prone to having this happen.

My brake hoses are cracked?

During a Vehicle Safety inspection your brake hoses will be checked for cracks. Rubber brake hoses have 3 layers. The inner core, then a braided central layer, and finally the outer rubber layer. It is when the outer layer shows signs of cracking that these hoses need replaced. Once the outer layer is gone then the braided central layer is the only thing keeping the inner core from swelling and bursting. You don’t want to experience a brake pedal going to the floor when you are expecting the car to stop.

Please visit us at Viking Automotive and have your brakes checked. The holiday season is upon us and we want everyone to be safe on the road.

To setup an appointment or request an estimate, please fill out the contact form below or call us now at 703-817-0650.