Car and Truck Brake Repair and Maintenance

PJW Automotive has years of brake repair experience. Your life and the lives of your passengers depend on your car/truck’s brakes. We take troubleshooting car brake problems seriously. Scheduled maintenance – the best form of troubleshooting – ensures that all brake components never reach to the breaking point. Schedule your brake repair and maintenance with PJW Automotive and rest easy knowing that we’ll take good care of your car or truck.

Braking System

A car’s brake system consists of the following: brake pads or brake shoes, rotors and or drums, calipers and or wheel cylinders, hoses, lines, hardware and the master cylinder. It may also have more sophisticated anti-lock brake components. These components need inspection at pre-defined intervals to ensure the car can stop when you need it to.

Brake Problem Symptoms

Contact PJW Automotive if you notice any of the following when braking.

  • Intermittent problems stopping
  • Hard, soft, too high, too low, spongy, pulsating or chattering brake pedal
  • Car pulls in one direction, pulls only to the left or only to the right
  • Grabbing, dragging or noisy brakes
  • Visible dashboard brake light
  • You added brake fluid in the last six months

These symptoms indicate potential brake system problems.

What We Look For During Brake Repair

Rust, heat, and age affect your car. Age, mileage and amount of brake wear dictate brake component replacement.  At PJW Automotive, when we perform brake repair, we look for:

  • Cracked, swollen, chaffed or leaking hoses,
  • Kinked, badly corroded, leaking or damaged steel brake lines
  • Leaking, frozen or damaged calipers or wheel cylinders or uneven brake pad wear.
  • Master cylinder leaks or brake pedals that sink to the floor instead of providing resistance when pressed.
  • Warped, worn or cracked rotors and drums.

When replacing disk brakes, we replace the brake pads and shims, resurface or replace the brake rotors, recondition or replace mounting slides, pins and bushings if your car uses a floating-style caliper. We use special high-temperature brake grease to lubricate caliper components. When replacing drum brakes, we replace the brake shoes, resurface the brake drums and replace shoe retaining clips, return springs, self-adjusters as needed. Again, use of the right grease is essential to your car’s safety. Wheel bearings, unless sealed, are cleaned, inspected, repacked, and adjusted during all brake repair services.

Brake Fluid

We finish brake replacements with new fluid and then bleed the brakes, removing old fluid and air from the entire system. Brake fluid attracts water over time degrading its performance. Some manufacturers recommend replacing brake fluid every 24,000 miles or two years; whichever comes first. PJW Automotive knows your car’s brake type and the compatible brake fluid. Using the wrong brake fluid creates problems with your car’s brakes if all the old fluid isn’t removed.


Troubleshooting Car Brake Problems

ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) Brake Light Comes On, Yellow Light

This indicates a problem with your anti-lock brake system. The onboard computer will disable the ABS system when the warning light is on. Your brakes will still function, but without ABS. This can seriously endanger you in an emergency situation, but you can safely drive the car in to PJW Automotive for brake repair.


Brake Warning Light Comes On, Red Light

Three conditions commonly cause this problem.

  • Your emergency brake is on. Check your emergency brake.
  • Your car needs brake fluid. Fill the reservoir to the line with the correct brake fluid or bring you car in for fluids service. If neither of these solutions extinguishes the light, bring your car, truck, or SUV in to PJW for inspection.
  • One side of your brake system leaks. You may need to use your emergency brake to stop. Call PJW Automotive at (651) 636-6141 to arrange to have your car/truck towed for brake repair.
Locked Brakes

When you touch the brakes the car veers sharply to the side and a wheel may lock up and skid. This may result from a bad disc caliper, wheel bearing problems, loose or broken brake pads or shoes, or contamination of the brake pads or shoes. This is a serious problem. Have your car towed in to PJW Automotive at 2087 Old Hwy 8 in New Brighton for brake repair ASAP.


Hard Brakes/Brake Pedal Won't Depress

Several possible problems could cause this, ranging from a bad power brake booster to failed caliper components to a failed vacuum line or a pinched brake line to brake problems as simple as something wedged under the brake pedal. Inspect the floor under your brake pedal. If you don’t find anything, have your car towed to PJW Automotive for brake repair.

Brake Pulls Car To Left Or Right When Braking

This can be caused by sticking or failed brake calipers or by problems with a brake pad. If the problem is severe ( see ‘Locked brakes’, above) have your car towed in for repair. A sticking brake may also cause this problem (see ‘burning smell’, below). If the pull shifts from left to right this is not a brake problem, it is likely a suspension problem. In any case, bring your car in to PJW Automotive for brake repair and maintenance.

You Smell A Burning Rubber/Chemical Smell After Driving

Some people describe this as smelling like burning resin. Burning brakes make cause this, but it could also indicate problems with your clutch. You may see light smoke coming from one or more wheel wells. Your car may pull to one side or the other. Stop your car and check that the emergency brake is off. If you were just driving down a long steep grade let your brakes cool down before proceeding. If neither of these conditions has occurred you may have a stuck brake. Have your car towed for repair. Continued driving may warp your discs or cause complete brake failure. Even if your brake appears to free itself, bring it to PJW Automotive and we will inspect your brakes, since extensive heating may cause damage to the coatings on your brakes and may cause brake fade.

You Hear A Grinding Noise From Your Wheel

Foreign matter trapped in your brakes may cause this or it could mean that you need to have your brake friction material or rotors/drums resurfaced or replaced. Take your car in for brake repair service at PJW Automotive.

Brake Pedal Pulsates or Vehicle Vibrates When Braking

Warped brake rotors or drums often cause this or overheated brakes or over-tightened lug nuts may also have this effect. Other potential  causes include wheel bearing problems or rusty spots on brake rotors. If you feel the problem in both the brake pedal and the steering wheel the problem is with your front wheels. Take your car in for a brake inspection at PJW Automotive.

Brake Pedal Goes Down Too Far, Spongy Brakes

Something as simple as air in the brake system could cause spongy brakes or it could be a more serious problem. Check your brake fluid level and fill to the marked level with the correct brake fluid for your car. If you did have low fluid you may continue to experience the problem after filling. Your brakes may also require “bleeding” or it may indicate a more serious problem, like a leak in your brake line or a failing master cylinder. In any case, spongy brakes can be a very serious and potentially fatal problem. Take your car in for immediate brake repair and/or servicing with PJW Automotive.

Brakes Barely Stop the Car and/or the Car Moves With Brakes Fully Applied

Very similar to the spongy brake pedal problem. Your brake pads/shoes may be worn out or severely contaminated by fluids or greases. Follow the same procedure – add fluid and take the car, truck, or SUV in for brake repair and/or service at PJW Automotive.

Brakes Squeal

This can indicate an easy fix like wear and tear or something more extensive. Sometimes dust and dirt build up in the wheels. Try taking your car through an automated car wash and see if this fixes the problem.  Other potential problems include automated brake adjusters in need of service, cheap brake linings, broken brake return or retaining springs, a bent backing plate, and warped brake shoes. Take your car in for brake service to identify and correct the problem. Constant squeal may indicate other problems such as a failed wheel bearing. Take your car in for inspection as soon as possible. A high-pitched piercing metallic sound at slow speeds without the brakes on indicates  ¾ or more of wear. Take your car in for disc brake repair at PJW Automotive as soon as possible. Delay may cause damage to your brake rotors (a much larger expense) or even endanger lives.