All About the Brake System in Your Dodge Charger

One of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime will likely be that of a vehicle. After investing money into the purchase of your Dodge Charger, it makes sense that you’ll want to keep it in the best working order possible. Although many drivers first think about wear-and-tear on the engine and body, one system that is often overlooked until problems happen is the braking system. Here, we’ll look at the components of the brake system, discuss how they work and how to recognize issues that may be happening with these parts.

How Does Your Hydraulic Brake System Work?

Your Charger’s brake system is a group of electronic, mechanical and hydraulically activated parts that use heat and friction to stop your moving vehicle. When you press the brake pedal, the pressure on the pedal moves a piston that is located in the master cylinder. This forces brake fluid from the master cylinder that travels through the flexible hoses and brake lines to reach the wheel cylinders and calipers. The wheel cylinders and calipers contain pistons, which are connected to a brake shoe or a disc brake pad. Each piston pushes the friction material against the wall of the brake drum or surface of the rotor which, in turn, slows down the wheel’s rotation. When you release pressure on the pedal, the shoes and pads return to their positions, forcing brake fluid back through the tubing and hoses to the master cylinder.

Components of a Hydraulic Brake System

First, your braking system consists of drum brakes, which are comprised of a backing plate and drum, brake shoes, an axle assembly or hub, wheel bearings, wheel cylinder and the hardware necessary to mount these parts on your Charger. The wheel cylinder connects to the master cylinder via valves, hoses and tubes that help to push brake fluid through your system. Brake fluid is a form of hydraulic fluid that is used to slow down light trucks and cars. It helps to transfer force under pressure through the hydraulic lines. When you brake, the process uses heat, so brake fluid must have a high boiling point to properly function and be able to withstand frozen conditions. Although brake fluid is designed to ward against corrosion, these inhibitors may wear down over time. Your Charger’s brake system also consists of disc brakes. These parts are comprised of wheel bearings, disc brake pads, a caliper assembly, a rotor or disc and the hardware necessary to mount these parts on your car. The caliper connects to the master cylinder via valves, hoses and tubes that force the brake fluid throughout your braking system. Depending on the make, model and year of the car, some older vehicles had four-wheel drum brakes. However, most modern cars have two rotors in the front and drum brakes in the rear. Most high-end to mid-range cars have four-wheel disc brakes. In addition to the standard braking system, all cars are equipped with a mechanical handbrake that works on two wheels--typically the rear ones. If the hydraulic braking system completely fails, the handbrake gives the driver limited braking ability, but its main purpose is usually to serve as a parking brake. The lever pulls one or more cables that are linked to the brakes using a set of smaller pulleys or levers. Once it is applied, a ratchet, located on the handbrake lever, keeps the brake on until a button is pushed and the ratchet is disengaged.

Common Signs of Brake Failure

Your braking system probably goes unnoticed since it’s often “out of sight, out of mind.” However, when a problem arises, typically in the form of grinding when you apply pressure on the brakes, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to help keep you and your passengers safe. To avoid any problems while driving, consider checking your car brakes every six months. Here are some common signs of brake failure to watch for:

- Lit ABS light for the antilock brakes

- Excessive drag during acceleration

- Clicking noises during braking

- Loss of brake pedal

- Grinding or squealing noises during braking

- Brake pedal pulsation while braking

- “Grabbing” or pulling to one side

- Poor braking performance

- Difficulty stopping the vehicle

Keep in mind that your Charger’s poor braking performance could be for any number of reasons. For instance, if you lose power assist from the power brake booster, it could attribute to the hard time you have trying to stop the car. This can happen because of deterioration of the vacuum brake booster diaphragm or because of a loss of engine vacuum. Grease- or oil-soaked brakes can also affect braking. If the rubber boot on a front end component like a tie rod or a ball joint fails, grease can make its way onto the brakes. Also, oil from the rear differential or front transaxle can get onto the brakes due to a leaking or damaged oil seal. If the brakes harden due to heat and can no longer stop the rotation of the rotor or brake drum, you could be looking at braking system issues. This typically happens when the brakes are worn-down or overused, either because you “ride the brake” or because of excessive panic stops. The brakes must be soft enough to grab the rotor or drum in order to stop the car. When the brakes are harden, they become ineffective.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that good, high-quality brakes are essential for safe driving. As such, it’s critical that you check your brake system on a regular basis to ensure that the components are functioning as they should. If you notice any signs or symptoms indicating a possible brake failure, it’s important to check out your Dodge Charger sooner rather than later to avoid potentially expensive repairs and possible injury should you be unable to stop the car.