Fittest loser
Article posted: 8/30/2013 10:52 AM

Get your brake repairs done before winter

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By Doug McAllister

Labor Day is here and that means winter, unfortunately, is just around the corner.

But the good news (or not) is football season starts this week. We still have some time before we need to get serious about prepping the car for winter. So today I want to talk about brakes.


Several people have asked me lately about brake concerns. Several folks have asked what could be the reason for a squeal sound when they put a light touch on their brake pedal.

The other complaint was a pulsation in the pedal when stopping.

The brake squeal could mean they are getting close to the end of the life of their brake pads. Most brake pads have a thin metal tab that starts to touch the brake rotor when the pads wear down. When break pads near the end of their life, the tab touches the rotor and it creates a high-pitched squeal when rolling at slow speeds or upon light pedal pressure.

This noise usually goes away when heavily braking. If you are experiencing this, it would be a good idea to have the brakes checked because the pads may be wearing out.

Another reason for a squeal could be that inferior quality of the brake pads, themselves. If you opt for one of those $99 brake jobs, you are most likely not going to get a OEM-quality (original equipment manufacturer) brake pad and you may have to live with some brake noise.

As far as the brake pulsation goes, this may mean a brake rotor is out of round. If you're old enough to remember what happens to a vinyl record album that is left in the sun, you can visualize what happens to a brake rotor that gets overheated -- it warps.

This can happen from overheating or it could be the rotor had some "run out" when it was put on. If a rotor is not true from the beginning, it will continue to get more and more out of round over time.

The solution is to replace the rotors or in some cases when the rotors have plenty of material to work with they can be resurface and trued to the car using a brake lathe. It is important that they be resurfaced on the car to eliminate any run out. Once this is done, you should have a perfectly smooth stop.

As mentioned above, always have top quality brake pads installed. You should use OEM-quality or better to get the stopping power and comfort that was designed into your vehicle.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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