The human body runs on various systems. We have our circulatory system, skeletal system, respiratory system, and so on. We need each system to work properly in order to remain healthy. Our vehicles are the same. They contain a series of systems that work together to keep it functioning properly. Each system needs to be properly maintained and taken care of.

This is the first in a series of blogs we will be posting about the various vehicle systems and their function.


The brake system is the vehicle’s most critical safety system. If you ever suspect any problems with your brake system, you should have it checked immediately. A properly functioning brake system ensures safe vehicle control and operation under numerous road conditions.

Parts of the Brake System

  • ABS modulator
  • Wheel speed sensors
  • Pads
  • Rotors
  • Brake calipers (disc brakes)
  • Master cylinder
  • Hydraulic lines and hoses
  • Shoes
  • Wheel cylinders (drum brakes)
  • Bearings, seals or hub units
  • Drums


The Car Care Council describes it well, “When you push the brake pedal, the force generates hydraulic pressure in the master cylinder. This pressure flows through the hydraulic lines and hoses to the wheel cylinders and calipers, forcing the shoes against the drums (drum brakes) and the pads against the rotors (disc brakes). The resulting friction slows the vehicle and is relative to the amount of force applied to the brake pedal.”


Brakes do not last forever, eventually, they will wear out and need replacement. You should avoid letting your brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point which would result in an expensive drum or rotor repair or replacement.  Several factors contribute to wear on the brakes such as quality of the brake shoes and pads, driving habits (braking hard, braking frequently, riding the brakes), and time.

Signs that it is time to maintain your brakes include:

  • Vehicle pulls to one side when braking
  • Unusual noises when you apply the brakes, like screeching or grinding
  • Brake pedal feels “mushy” when you step on it
  • You frequently need to add brake fluid
  • Brake fluid has been sprayed onto the outside of the wheel
  • You notice smoke or an unusual odor when brakes are applied
  • The brake warning light comes on


The entire brake system should be checked every year. The brake fluid usually needs to be changed every two to three years, or 24,000 miles to 36,000 miles. Your owner’s manual can give you more detailed information for your specific vehicle.

When you bring your vehicle in for a brake service, there are a few things that will occur:

  • A technician should inspect the brake pads and shoes, drums and rotors, wheel cylinders, master cylinders, brake hoses, calipers, brake hardware and fluid.
  • Depending on their condition and thickness, the drums or rotors may be resurfaced or replaced.
  • Parking brake checked for proper operation. In some cases, the parking brake pads/shoes may need to be replaced.

If you’re in need of a brake service, don’t trust just anyone, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us at (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.

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