Your Chevy Impala’s brakes serve you well, keeping you and your vehicle safe in all kinds of weather. Learning this critical system will help you better understand how to care for it, along with signs of common problems and when you need to perform maintenance such as a brake pad replacement.
A Quick Overview of Braking Systems
Your Impala’s braking assembly works on a basic principle of physics: energy conversion. In other words, it turns kinetic energy from motion into heat energy to bring your vehicle to a stop. When you press the brake pedal, it engaged a lever connected to a piston that activates the master cylinder. Next, the master cylinder releases hydraulic fluid and sends it through pipes connecting to wider cylinders at their ends. Located near the brakes inside each wheel hub assembly, these wide cylinders apply the pressure needed to stop the vehicle.
Vehicles either have disc brakes, drum brakes or a combination of both. You may see cars with disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on the rear wheels. Drum brakes rely on drums with curved brakes pads inside to stop the vehicle: The hydraulic system puts pressure on these pads so that they press against the inside of the drum. In contrast, disc brakes use spinning metal rotors surrounded by a pair of brake pads attached to calipers. These pads are activated by hydraulic fluid, pressing on either side of the rotor to stop its spinning. Your Impala probably has both front and rear disc brakes, but you should have its exact make, year and model when you’re shipping for brake pad replacement components.
Common Signs of Brake Problems
You cannot change the laws of physics that govern how your Impala moves or its brake systems work. However, you can be a responsible driver and pay attention to routine vehicle maintenance. Thanks to that kinetic-to-heat energy conversion, your brake pads accumulate wear over time and must be replaced. Other things can go wrong as well: leaking brake lines or fluids, faulty rotors, master cylinder issues and so forth.
Assuming you drive an average number of miles per year, you should replace your brakes every 20,000 to 30,000 miles. However, you should consult your owner’s manual for its specific recommendations. With all that said, you should also look for some typical warning signs that there’s a problem with your brakes:
- Brake warning light on your dashboard
- Brake pedal feeling spongy or soft
- More time needed to stop your vehicle
- Squealing, clicking or grinding sounds
- Vibration or pulsing when brakes are applied
- Vehicle pulling to one side when braking
Shopping for Brake Components
On many vehicles, including your Chevy Impala, it’s relatively easy to replace your brakes. You will, however, need the right tools and parts to do the job. It’s also important to keep an eye on your braking systems and perform periodic maintenance when needed. Try checking your pads and rotors when you perform an oil change or rotate your tires. Finally, choose a reputable parts dealer when you’re shopping for your Chevy Impala oil filters, brake pads, rotors or other vehicle essentials.