A Car Brake Repair Primer

The security of your car is vital, whether it is a Mercedes or a Mazda – even the safest vehicle on earth can have brake failure. If your car’s brakes don’t work properly, the consequences could be fatal. Thus, the brakes are probably the most important part of your vehicle. Car brake repair knowledge is always good to have because you never know if or when your car’s brake system will let you down. If this happens while you’re driving let’s say in the desert, miles away from the nearest garage, you should be able to

  • Perform a brake inspection and troubleshoot the problem
  • Know what it takes to do a car brakes repair
  • If possible, do the fix yourself
  • If not, be able to describe the problem to someone who is able to repair your automobile brakes.

To become able to perform the work listed above, the first thing you need to know is how a car’s brake system works.

A drum system is utilizing hydraulic pressure to press a pad against a brake drum to slow down the speed of the vehicle. Here is how it works:

  • press the brake pedal
  • the piston in the master cylinder sends pressure via the brake lines held by the brake shoe to the wheel cylinders inside the brake drum
  • the friction caused by the shoe pressed against the drum is stopping the wheel from turning

A brake drum is a flat-topped and heavy cylinder, that you normally find somewhere between the wheel rim and the drive wheel. When you press the brake pedal, the friction material held by the brake shoes is pressed against the brake drum. This will slow the rotation of the wheels. A wheel cylinder contains pistons utilizing hydraulic power from the master cylinder to force the brake pads against the brake drum.

Another brake system, called disk brake system is using hydraulic pressure to press a pad against the rotor. This way it slows down the vehicle. Here is how it works:

  • press the brake pedal
  • the piston in the master cylinder is activated and sends pressure via the brake lines to the calliper
  • when the pad makes contact with the rotor, friction is created and this stops the wheel from turning

A rotor is nothing but a circular plate that is gripped by the brake pads for slowing down the vehicle. A brake pad is a pad made of friction material. When pressed against the rotor it stops the wheel from turning. This pad is held by the calliper, which straddles the rotor by using hydraulic pressure from the brake lines. With help from internal pistons it forces the brake pads against the rotors.

Performing this process, the breaking system needs brake fluid. The master cylinder provides this by distributing the brake fluid under pressure, to the entire breaking system of your vehicle.

The description above gives you the knowledge of how two different car brake systems work. These are the first things you need to know when troubleshooting and fixing any problems regarding your vehicle’s brakes. Brake problems can occur in a Cadillac, a VW or even in the safest vehicle brand. There are plenty free resources online which give you step by step instructions on fixing any brake problems that your vehicle may incur. I recommend that you go online and do a search for ‘car auto brake repair’. You’ll be amazed of the list of brake fix resources that will appear within seconds.

Aftermarket, OEM, OE Auto Parts Explained

Aftermarket, OEM, replacement parts–you see these words in almost all auto parts stores online. What do these terms mean?

For a passive buyer, these things are but ordinary terms used in the automotive market but for someone meticulous and who wants the best for his auto, these things matter considerably. Deciding which among these to purchase is just like deciding what car to buy.

O.E.M. stands for Original Equipment Manufactured. This means that OEM Ford parts are manufactured by Ford itself, Chevrolet parts are manufactured by Chevrolet, Toyota parts by Toyota, BMW parts by BMW and so on. The terms O.E.S. and OE are also used; these mean Original Equipment Supplied and Original Equipment, respectively. While in many cases, OEM and OES mean the same, OE is more general referring to any part that came as original equipment on the car. Some of OE car parts and components are not actually made by the car manufacturer but are purchased and assembled by the automakers to create a vehicle.

Those referred to as “aftermarket auto parts” are not made by the original car manufacturer; furthermore, they are bought and added to the vehicle only at the dealership or after the vehicle left the dealership. In terms of design and function, aftermarket products are almost the same as the stock auto parts since they are primarily used to replace a damaged original part so that the vehicle can continue to run. If you need replacement parts for your car, however, you can either buy O.E.M. or aftermarket auto parts. There are numerous sources of aftermarket auto parts. Stores like Auto Parts Discount give you a great variety of parts for almost all makes and models.

Some cars, especially the base models are not completely equipped so users just add aftermarket parts later on. For example if you have purchased an old Toyota Corolla, you can add aftermarket Toyota fog lights, Toyota spoiler, Toyota turn signal light or Toyota mirrors. Aftermarket products can also help you give your car a fresh new look. Even if your original parts are not yet damaged or worn out, you can replace them with or add specially designed aftermarket auto parts like Honda taillights, Ford center cap, Chevrolet chrome bumper, and Mercedes Benz Front Cover Towing Eye found at Auto Parts Discount.

Enthusiasts, on the other hand would opt for custom parts and specialty equipments. Compared to a universal fit auto part, which can be installed to any vehicle make, year and model, custom aftermarket products are designed to fit only a particular application. Examples of custom parts are your Ford hood, Ford fender and Ford doors. Specialty equipments on the other hand, are intended to make the vehicle more stylish, comfortable, convenient and more up-to-date.

Most auto users prefer aftermarket products because they are less expensive than OEM replacements. While it is true that there may be some aftermarket auto parts that do not meet high standards of original equipments, it is not right to say that aftermarket products are generally inferior in terms of quality and style. Replacement parts sold at Auto Parts Discount, for example are made by car parts manufacturers that are mandated by high international standards.

Which is better, OEM or aftermarket replacement part? It depends on the product. Some OEM parts are not durable enough while the aftermarket parts you use to replace them could last for many years. If you want to give your car a different look and also, if you want to save, aftermarket products are worth a try. However, make sure to get these replacement parts from trusted sources.

Ball Joints and Your Car’s Suspension System

An important part of your car’s suspension system is its ball joints. Made of extra tough steel, ball joints act as the pivot point between two parts: the suspension and your car’s tires. This part help support your car’s weight and, as is the case with some vehicles, they may be used to help set the alignment. Let’s take a closer look at this key component of your car’s suspension system.

Enclosed in a steel housing, joints are used on the front end of almost every car, truck, SUV, and minivan. As might be expected, this important component is subject to a lot of wear and tear, so to properly protect them they are housed in an enclosed boot to keep dirt away from the joint assembly.

There are two types of suspension systems that use ball joints. The first is a conventional system that uses an upper and lower joint. The second is called a MacPherson strut system that uses a single lower joint and an upper strut bearing. No upper joint is needed as the upper strut bearing does the job instead.

Maintenance for this component has changed over the years for most cars. Many vehicles come equipped with joints that are permanently lubed, so lubrication is not necessary nor is it even possible as the pack that holds the lubrication is permanently sealed. When they wear out or are damaged, you can find replacement parts that come with lubrication fittings; in this case you would need to lubricate your new units on a regular basis as in when you change your vehicle’s oil.

When performing an inspection of your car’s suspension, your ball joints should be looked at too. Have a complete wheel alignment performed and make certain that they are not worn. If they wear out and are not changed, you will soon experience uneven tire wear or unreliable steering, such as wandering. Clearly, worn out parts are a safety issue that must be tended to and fixed immediately.

These parts are developed for the specific make/model of your vehicle. Many models share the same suspension system as other models within the brand, but to be sure check your vehicle’s repair manual for the right replacement parts. Certain manufacturers, such as Moog, develop parts for many makes/models and can be used by mechanics that prefer this particular product. Check online to find out more information about Moog parts and whether they are right for your car.

Remember: ball joints are an important part of your vehicle’s suspension system. Annual check ups of the suspension can head off costly problems which can also impact your safety.

The Differences Between OE OEM and OES Parts

OE: Original Equipment:  This part is either made by the car manufacture or is made by an automotive part supplier and is branded with the car manufactures logo and/or in the car manufactures box.  

OEM Original Equipment Manufacture

OES Original Equipment Supplier

Car manufacturers do not make all their parts that they put on their vehicles during assembly or repair, they contract out to auto part manufactures to make parts for them. For the most part the car manufacturer makes the body, frame and major engine components the rest they ‘farm out’ to OEM/OES manufacturers. The car manufacturer provides the specifications to the OEM/OES manufactures for the parts they need. The OEM/OES manufactures the part to these specs, adds a logo and ships it to the car manufacture.

Bosch, Bilstien, Boge, Beru, Mann, ATE, to name a few, are all OEM or OES suppliers to the car manufacturers. They make parts from spark plugs to exhaust parts. The difference between OE and OEM/OES is mainly the OEM/OES usually don’t have the car manufactures logo, but they are the same exact part. Sometimes the logo is ground off the part by the OEM/OES company so as not to affect there contract with the car manufacture. Same part coming off the same assembly line as the OE part does.

The OEM/OES parts are less expensive because they do not go through the car manufactures part system. Every time an OE part goes through a depot, warehouse, dealer, there is a little more money added to the cost of the part. This is the major reason that OE parts cost more. OEM/OES do not go through this procedure, our buyers get them directly from the manufactures, keeping the prices down.  

Aftermarket: aftermarket parts are just that, aftermarket. They are not made by the car manufacturers. They can be made by one of the original equipment manufacturer companies or by a completely different manufacturer. The main difference is they are not made completely to the car manufacture specifications. This is not always bad. One example is Bilstien. They are an OEM/OES supplier, but they offer aftermarket parts also. There HD struts/shocks are original equipment, but their Sport struts/shocks and suspension kits are not made to OE specifications, better but not OE, so it’s now an aftermarket part. Another example is the Stewart EMP BMW water pumps. Stewart EMP is NOT an OEM/OES manufacturer but the pump they make is better and stronger than OE. It is an aftermarket part but a better part altogether.  

But still another example of an aftermarket BAD part is a counterfeit part. Counterfeit part manufacturers use backward engineering to get the specifications of the part without paying the car manufacturer. And almost all the time these parts are made with very low quality components. Sometimes these parts are very hard to identify because a lot of emphasis is put on the look and feel of the part and not what it is made from. One way to identify an counterfeit part is its unbelievable low price, the old adage you get what you pay for fits here. The best way to avoid these cheap low quality parts is to purchase your parts from a reliable source, one that offers a warranty and return policy.

Almost all Performance parts are aftermarket parts, again be careful with these parts also. Buy from a reputable supplier or/or manufacturer.