Warnings And Cautions About
Automotive Brake System Repairs


By Bruce W. Maki, Editor and Publisher

Based on my training and (limited) experience, I have compiled a list of possible problems that could result from servicing brake systems. This should not be considered a complete list of possible problems.


Some Possible Sources Of Brake System Problems:

  • Too much non-contact area: If brake rotors or drums have developed grooves (typically from the rivets grinding against the metal surface) then the new brake linings won't be rubbing against a full surface. While it's true that eventually the linings will wear down to a point where their surface matches the rotor or drum, in the meanwhile the linings won't have enough contact area. My automotive instructors frequently reminded us of the maximum non-contact area. In my state (Michigan) a maximum of 15% non-contact area is allowed.
  • Drum brake wheel cylinders that leak and drip brake fluid onto the brake linings, resulting in loss of braking ability.
  • Rear axle seals that leak, causing gear oil to drip onto brake linings, resulting in a loss of braking ability.
  • Disc brake caliper pistons that do not slide back-and-forth properly (typically due to corrosion) and 1) cause the brake pads to drag on the rotor and wear out prematurely, or 2) prevent the caliper from pushing the brake pads against the rotor.


Brake Hardware Malfunction:

  • Caliper slide (guide) pins that are bent, cracked, or damaged, resulting in a caliper that does not remain in place, or becomes jammed.
  • Brake shoe hold-down pins that break due to corrosion or other damage, allowing the brake shoes to move excessively.
  • Return springs in drum brakes that break off and cause improper brake function.
  • Parking brake mechanism that becomes disconnected and interferes with operation of brake shoes.
  • ANY loose or broken part inside a drum brake mechanism can interfere with proper brake operation.
  • Drum brake self-adjuster mechanism that fails to function properly, resulting in brakes that fail to apply properly.

Brake Fluid Loss:

  • Brake fluid loss due to a ruptured flexible brake hose. When removing a brake caliper to replace pads, do not let the caliper just hang on the flexible hose... support the weight of the caliper with mechanic's wire or a bungee cord.
  • Brake fluid loss due to ruptured or leaking metal brake tubing.



General Disclaimer:


This is not a "How-To" website... this is a "How I Did It" website.

My purpose for writing these articles is to create a written record of how I did certain projects and repairs, in case I need the information later.

The public is allowed to read the content of this website, but readers must be advised that this content is for entertainment value only.

If you follow the procedures, techniques and methods shown on this website, be aware that you follow them at your own risk.

Under no circumstances will the author(s) and/or publisher(s) of HandyManlyNess.com be held liable for any injuries or damages, direct or consequential, incurred by any person who attempts to follow the examples shown herein.



If you repair a vehicle, and your repairs cause the vehicle to malfunction, leading to an accident that causes property damage, injury or death, there is a chance that YOU MAY BE HELD LIABLE. There is no guarantee that the automobile liability insurance will cover the damages if you repaired the vehicle improperly.

Steering, suspension and brakes are the systems most commonly associated with malfunctions that can lead to loss of vehicle control, so extra caution must be used when servicing these systems. However, other vehicle systems can malfunction and cause injury or property damage.

I strive to provide accurate information about the projects and repairs shown on HandyManlyNess.com. However, I am NOT currently a licensed auto mechanic, and my experience in auto mechanics is limited.

I try to highlight and expose the risks and potential hazards for readers of this website, but I cannot anticipate all possibilities.

If you are not absolutely sure of your abilities, find someone who is, such as a licensed or certified professional.

If you seek the lowest risk method of repairing or servicing a vehicle, I recommend that you have a licensed or certified auto repair shop do the repairs.




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Revised April 30, 2009