If you've been having problems with your brakes, but you can see that the pads, shoes, drums and rotors look fine, then you could be having problem with your brake hardware. Many people don't think about these seemingly unimportant metal and rubber pieces, but they are vital to your car's safety and functionality. Faulty hardware can not only cause brake problems, but can cause damage to other components as well. Here is more information about brake hardware, what it does, and how you can tell if something is going wrong.
What is Brake Hardware?
The term brake hardware is usually applied to those small pieces of metal and rubber around the main brake components that keep them aligned and working properly. They work to reduce both noise and other serious brake problems.
What are Some Types of Hardware?
Common types of brake hardware include clips and slides on the disk brake pads as well as caliper pins and brackets. Some disk pads also use small springs and pad separators on top of their shims and slides. If your car is equipped with rear drum brakes, they will also have large springs and a cable for your parking brake.
How Does Brake Hardware Work?
Brake hardware helps to keep your pads and shoes aligned in the correct position so that they don't rub against the rotor or drum when they're not engaged. It also works to return the pads or shoes to the correct position after you have pressed and released the brake pedal. For disc brakes, the hardware also helps the pads work evenly so you don't get grabbing or pulling to one side.
What Symptoms Does Broken or Worn Brake Hardware Exhibit?
The first thing you will likely notice is noise, often a squeak, squeal, clunk, or rattle. Sometimes, you might hear what seems to be a slapping against the rotor as you drive. You may also experience a grabbing feeling or vibrations when you press on the brake. In the worst cases, your caliper or shoe could bind and cause serious damage to other brake components, not to mention making the car feel like it's dragging or difficult to move.
It's always a good idea to have your small brake hardware changed when you undergo brake installation to have your pads and shoes replaced. Even if the existing hardware doesn't look bad or damaged, it can still cause you problems. If you are due for a brake pad or shoe change, have a professional install your brakes with new hardware. Also, any time your brakes are not feeling right, are making noise, or are creating strange vibrations, have them examined by an experienced mechanic.