For those of you who are novices when it comes to car repair, car brakes are a bit more complicated than the brakes on bicycles, but they work on the same principle.  Something is pushed against the wheel to make your vehicle slow down.  That’s the easy explanation.  The process by which it happens is a bit more complicated.

Modern car brakes are made up of the following parts:  brake pedal, the master cylinder, brake hoses, ABS, or anti-lock brake system, computer, brake sensors, pads, shoes, calipers, drums, wheel cylinders, a power booster and rotors.  Not all of these are on every car; it depends solely on the make and model of your vehicle.

The most common parts to wear out are the brake pads and brake shoes, and they are also the easiest to replace should you be interested in doing a DIY car repair.

Here is what happens when you step on your brake pedal.  The master cylinder pushes brake fluid through the lines to the calipers.  The calipers then push the brake pads against the rotor which creates friction and slows your car down.  With drum brakes, the calipers push shoes and drums and you again slow down.  A power booster is what gives you power brakes. In the old days a driver would have to push much harder on the brake pedal; the booster does the pushing so the driver doesn’t have to.

Now as for car repair.  A typical brake job to replace brake pads or shoes might cost you $200 or more for a job that takes less than an hour.  We don’t know about you but we don’t have $200 to waste on such a simple job.  Here’s what you do the next time you hear your brakes grinding and the brake pedal getting sluggish.

Go to your local salvage yard and buy some brake pads and shoes for your vehicle.  Then install them yourself.  You can go online and find out how to do the job; you don’t need any special tools.  The whole job will take you an hour or two; the cost of used pads and shoes will cost you maybe fifty bucks; in other words, you will save yourself $150 and feel darn proud in the process.

Check your brake fluid monthly and listen for odd sounds when you hit the brakes. Even the most novice of drivers can hear and feel when the brakes are not functioning properly, and then it will be time for action.