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Disc brakes are wonderful things. They offer improved stopping power and performance over older style drum brakes. They can be equipped with an ABS system as well, which helps to prevent your wheels from locking up under hard braking, or braking in wet driving conditions. However, if you feel the brake pedal pulsating when you press it, there may be something wrong with your brakes.
Disc brakes (and drum brakes for that matter) work on the basis of friction. When the caliper squeezes the rotor between the brake pads, it creates friction. This is what slows down and stops your car. It also produces heat.
If your rotors overheat, you’ll find that that high spots are created on the surface. They can also be warped – the most common way is by overheating the rotors and then driving through a puddle, which immediately cools and warps them.
Both high spots and warping cause brake pads to skip and grab as they move over the surface of the rotor. This is translated through the pedal as pulsations. There’s also the possibility that you’re experiencing pulsation from the ABS system. If you notice the pulsation only on hard stop and during wet driving, chances are good it’s normal ABS operation. You should not experience it during normal braking on a dry road, though.
High Spots on Rotors: If high spots have formed on your rotors, you’ll experience a pulsating brake pedal. You may also experience abnormal brake pad and rotor wear. The only way to eliminate this problem is to have the rotors resurfaced. If the rotors are worn already, you may need to replace them.
Warped Rotors: If your rotors have been warped, this will also create a pulsating brake pedal. Warped rotors can sometimes be resurfaced, but if the warping is severe, replacement might be the only option.
Normal ABS Operation: If you’re experiencing a pulsating brake pedal only occasionally, and only during “panic” stops or in wet driving conditions, chances are good that it’s normal ABS operation. A brake inspection service should tell you if there’s a problem.
Thinning Brake Fluid: Like engine oil and transmission fluid, your brake fluid must be replaced periodically. As it ages, the fluid “thins” and can sometimes absorb moisture, which reduces performance and can lead to a pulsating brake pedal. The rough estimate is every two years, but heavy braking may require more frequent changes.
One of our professional mobile mechanics will come to your home or office and inspect your car’s brake pads, rotors, brake fluid and other potential causes for concern. The mechanic will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
The mechanic will need to inspect the entire brake system. While warped rotors and unevenly worn rotors are generally the primary cause here, there are other concerns. The mechanic may need to remove the wheels to inspect the pads and rotors as well.
Having a reliable brake system is essential to driving. A pulsating brake pedal is more than just an inconvenience or a discomfort. It can lead to further damage, including abnormal pad wear, vibration damage to calipers and other components. One of our professional mechanics can inspect your brake system and determine the underlying cause of the pulsations you’re feeling in the brake pedal.
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