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Joe's Garage: Best brake fixes

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Today, we’re going to look at brake pads. There are some definite warning signs that your brake pads may be worn out, like a squeaking sound or that annoying squealing noise you hear when slowing down at a stop light. Another clue, your pedal gets a little spongy, especially when the brake pad and rotor heat up.

How would you know it’s not a rotor? The only real problem you may have with a brake rotor is if it becomes warped. If you get pulsating on your pedal, that’s sometimes a sign of a brake rotor warping. That happens when the brake rotor gets too hot, over and over again, and eventually, it warps out.

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Once you’ve decided that you need a new set of brake pads, I would look for brands like Centric, Wagner or Bendix. A lot of these companies are making OE (original equipment) specific pads. What that means is whatever the manufacturer originally put on the vehicle, that’s the pad they put in the box. For instance, some cars call for ceramic pads, which are a little softer material, but tailored to a particular vehicle. Sometimes, you need a brake pad that’s semi-metallic, or whatever’s specific to that car. Also, the manufacturers are sticking closely to original equipment specifications, so when you put that brake on, those pads are giving you the same type of clean stopping power you had when the car was new.

Now that you’ve chosen your specific pad, you’ll need to consider if you want to install it yourself or not. Starting in the early 2000s, the automotive industry began hooking brakes to the ABS (anti-lock braking system) computer. Some of these cars have lights that go off with an ABS message on the dashboard. Newer models have even more computerization and technology built into the brake systems, including these cars that can park themselves. It will come to a point where you’ll be unable to reset the computer yourself. Now, on older vehicles, it’s not as much of a problem, and you should be able to do it on your own.

Until next time… see ya later.

Joe Ferrer, is the owner of BS&F Auto Parts in New York City and host of the SPEED original series "Hard Parts: South Bronx" Tuesday nights at 9pm ET on SPEED.