” Ball Joint “ – is a part of you suspension that allows for free movement of the suspension both up and down, and back in forth. They do wear out, often are grease able and can fail leaving your vehicle un-drivable and broken down. They tie the suspension together, your safety can be jeopardized if the ball joint fails and you are unable to steer of stop the car properly.
“ Tie Rod “ – is part of your steering system that does wear out, maybe grease able, and because it ties your steering box to the steer wheels on your car a failure will make your car undrivable at least and in the worst case could cause a accident because you could not steer it. Most cars have multiple tie rods, if they have excess play, they can cause vibration, cause excess tire wear and wheel alignment variation. If they fail while driving you will not be able to steer your car.
“ Strut’s or Shocks “ – are hydraulic devices on each corner of your suspension that dampen the up and down motion of your car as it goes over uneven roads. They typically last 50,000 to 100,000 miles unless damaged and will effect tire wear, handling, controllability and comfort of ride. When the oil leaks out of them, or they lose they’re gas charge, the car will get bouncy and less controllable indicating its time to replace them. When they are replaced most struts have upper mounts that should be replaced at the same time. When a coil spring is involved in the strut, the spring should be inspected for damage or fatigue and replaced if indicated.
“ Sway Bar, and Sway Bar Links “ – are components that are utilized in your suspension to, reduce body roll when cornering. They wear out and do break, but will typically not make your car undrivable, just less controllable in a turn because of body roll.
“ Hub Bearing “, also called wheel bearing, is a sealed , non serviceable bearing that turns every time your wheel goes around. They will wear out and can get damaged with just normal driving. Because they basically attach the wheels to your car, it is important they are in good working order. A rumbling noise that gets louder the faster you go is a pretty good indicator of a hub bearing that is beginning to fail. Hub bearings will make noise for a very long time before they are unsafe, but if you are experiencing vibration that coincides with the “ rumbling “ noise in your wheels its time to have it replaced. When a hub bearing begins to get loose it can also create problems with you’re A.B.S. system and may even shut A.B.S. system down. If that is the case, again you need to have the bearing unit replaced right away.
“ Brake Rotor “ is a disc shaped cast iron part that is what the brake pads are squeezed against, that is also attached to the wheel hub and goes around when each revolution of the wheel. They do wear out, get too thin from wear to be used again, when replacing brake pads, or get damaged from metal to metal contact when the brake pads wear out or get warped if they are overheated from extreme use. A warped rotor will cause pulsation in your brake pedal while braking, it will make your brake pads wear out faster that they should and if severe it can reduce your ability to stop the car. When brake rotors were big, heavy, and thick cast iron components, we could have them resurfaced at a machine shop if they were warped. Today
because of the reduction in weight that is in a rotor, most damaged rotors are replaced.
“ Brake Pads or Brake Shoes “ – are the part of the brake system that has friction material that is pushed against either the rotor or drum. They are made of various materials today and depending on how you use your vehicle one type or another brake pads maybe indicated. My theory of brakes is to replace pads or shoes when they are half worn out. Because the brakes work cooler when there is lots of friction material left, you will almost never have to replace rotors or calipers because if they don’t get overheated or damaged by metal to metal contact they don‘t go bad.
“ Caliper “ – is a device in your brake system that thru the magic of hydraulics squeezes the brake pads against the rotors causing friction and stopping your car. Calipers get damaged by running your brake pads too far down, by corrosion, and by seal failure. When ever there is a brake fluid leak, it will almost always cause the loss of brake stopping power. Because air will compress and fluid will not, anytime the caliper is replaced, the system must be bled of all air that was introduced during repair.
“ Bleed Brake System “- is a procedure to remove any air in the hydraulic portion of your brake system. This air may have been introduced into system, when system had to be “ opened “ for service, had a leak in the system because of damage or part failure, or if it is likely that brake system was overheated and the brake fluid may have “ boiled “ at some point. When fluid reaches boiling point gases are created which contaminate the brake fluid.
“ Master Cylinder “ – is the hydraulic pump which applies pressure to your brakes stopping your car. They will leak or wear out with age, when this part of the brake system is failing it usually turns on the brake warning lamp on, or you will experience a “ mushey “or low pedal. If you pump the pedal, the braking may improve, but you may want to have it towed to the shop because its not safe to drive it.
“ Wheel Speed Sensor “ – or ABS sensor, is a tiny generator that produces a voltage signal that varies with wheel speed, it tells the computer how fast each wheel is going constantly, so that your anti-lock brakes and the vehicle traction controls operate when called for because of either wheel skid or wheel slippage.
The most common cause of ABS or TCS faulting is the loss of signal from a wheel speed sensor. There is typically a sensor in each wheel hub, though some truck models or rear wheel drive car only have one speed sensor for the 2 rear wheels. In many vehicles to replace the wheel speed sensor means you have to replace the hub bearing assembly to get it. Those manufacturers designed it built into the bearing assembly.
“ Wheel Cylinder “ – is a small hydraulic slave cylinder that applies the pressure to your brake shoes if you have “ drum brakes “ on your vehicle. Drum brake systems are becoming obsolete now, as more models switch to the 4 wheel disc brake systems, drum brakes are heavy compared to disc systems, they had more moving parts to potentially fail, and in a panic stop from high speed drum brakes had a tendency to “ fade away “ as they built up heat. They tend to leak when you run your brake shoes down too far or your drums were worn to a oversized diameter. In drum brakes none of the components were very expensive to replace, and they lasted a long time with normal use.
“ Proportioning Valve “ – is a control valve that determines how much brake power is sent to front wheels vs. the rear wheels to help stop you quickly and with control. This valve also split’s the front and rear brake hydraulic systems, so that if you have a leak in one end the other half of the brake system still has some stopping ability left. This valve can wear out or get damaged, but failure is rare.
“ Emergency Brake “ – Parking Brake, E-brake, is a mechanical system ( cables ) that will apply some brake pressure to the rear wheels. This system is not effective enough to drive the car safely. It will hold the car in position if its parked on a moderate incline and is better than nothing if your car has a brake system failure. To keep the system functioning you have to use it regularly. BE ADVISED in some model vehicles if you don’t use your parking brakes, the rear brakes do not adjust themselves, so they do not work as well and they will eventually cause excessive wear to other components in your brake system because the rear brakes are so far out of adjustment. We recommend picking a place in your travels where you always set your parking brake, like maybe every time you park in you garage at home till you get the habit. This tip will save you money in future brake repairs if you follow it.
“ Brake Warning Lamp “, -will come on if you are driving with the parking brake on. It also comes on if brake fluid is low, it may only flicker while making a turn in a curve at first. If it comes on because of a loss of brake pressure, it can also mean a loss of the brakes altogether! If this light is on, pull over now !