Brakes are one of the most critical safety systems in our car. They keep us from plowing into objects and people. Keeping your brakes in working order requires they be checked at least once a year. But just having them checked isn't enough; who you choose to service your brakes matters. When it comes to brake repairs, it's critical that you select a service center that hires qualified, experienced mechanics. Failing to pick the right repair facility puts your safety at risk!
The braking system is very complex many systems come together to form the braking system they include:
- Mechanical - the brake pads, rotors, bearings, & emergency brake.
- Hydraulic - calipers, hoses, lines, pressure regulator and compensators, and anti-lock brake components.
- Electrical - brake warning systems
- Electronic - anti-lock brake sensors and electronic control unit
- Automatic predictive brake system - vehicle position sensor systems
The complexity of brakes and the importance of choosing the right facility to service your brakes came to my attention recently when a customer came in and said he needed some work on his brakes. “All the brakes are new," he told me. "I just had a shop replace them, but they couldn't bleed the brakes, and the brake pedal goes to the floor!"
I can't imagine giving a customer their car back without working brakes!
This conversation happened not long after one of our service advisors had received a call from a local AAA service center. The technician was on the line asking for advice about restoring the brake pedal feel after disturbing the hydraulic brake system. Our service advisor listened patiently as the technician went through the procedure he was following. Amazingly, he was not following the correct procedure. When our service writer pointed out his mistake, he was very pleased and full of thanks.
The procedure he was performing incorrectly is called “bleeding brakes.” This is something that an apprentice learns in the first few months of their apprenticeship. It's a straight-forward procedure that I think most people could understand. Nevertheless, here was a national company that had employed someone who did not understand the system and the theory behind how it works!
When servicing brakes, it is critical that you have someone who knows what they are doing! When choosing an auto service facility, be sure to pick one that employs skilled technicians that are certified to work on brakes. The Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification means the technician knows the theory behind the system they are working on.
ASE has certifications for all the vehicles mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems.
Be sure you pick a shop that requires their technicians to be certified.
For help in finding the repair facility that is consistent with the way you like to service and repair your vehicle, download our Automotive Shop 101 booklet. And for more information about brakes, check out this video I did a while back.