“Pumping” The Brakes – A Good Idea?

October 11th, 2016

Years ago, your dad might have told you that “pumping” the brake pedal was a good idea on wet or slippery pavement, so you could maintain control of the 

Brake Repair in Indianapolis IN vehicle without locking up any of the wheels and sending the car into a skid. Well, that’s some pretty outdated advice today.

Every vehicle now features antilock brakes (ABS), which greatly in vehicle control during an emergency stop. ABS brakes use a sensor at each wheel to monitor the wheel’s rotational speed. That information is then sent to a processor; if any wheel is in danger of going into a skid, the processor meters braking  (through a system of pumps and valves) to reduce braking effort to that wheel. This is a cycle that happens hundreds of times per second, with the ABS system essentially “pumping” the brakes for you. The only time when pumping the brakes might actually be a good idea is while descending a steep hill; rather than riding the brakes, apply them on-and-off to check your speed without overheating them. Remember to turn off your automatic transmission’s overdrive while going down a hill, so you can take advantage of the engine and transmission’s natural braking and not tax the brakes.

Consider this for a second, though.

The average American car piles up 12-15,000 miles per year. If you were to attach a counter to the brake pedal, it would register about 75,000 applications of the brakes in that span of time. That might seem like an excessive number, until you think about how many times you alternate between the gas pedal and the brakes during a commute in Indianapolis, IN traffic!

Winter weather is tough on many parts of your vehicle. It’s hard on the engine, the tires, the undercarriage and the body, and it’s a good idea to have a nice refresh of all these things when the temperatures start to climb and spring is on its way. Be aware of signs of brake problems, such as:

·         Tendency for the brakes to grab or lock up

·         Excessive brake pedal travel

·         Noticeable pull to one side while braking

·         Steering wheel shimmy, or pulsation that can be felt through the brake pedal while braking

·         Squealing or grinding noise while braking

·         Longer stopping distances

·         Brake pedal feels “soft” or “spongy” underfoot

·         Brake pedal slowly goes to floor while holding the vehicle at a stop, in gear

The friction material of brake pads wears very slowly, and it can be hard to notice when brakes actually are wearing down to a dangerous point. That’s why brake inspections at regular intervals are a good idea…and spring is as good a time as any!


Make an appointment with Tire Central and Service in Indianapolis, IN and let us get your spring preventive maintenance scheduled! 

“Pumping” The Brakes – A Good Idea? was written by of Tire Central and Service
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101