Expert Advice

What exactly gets repaired during a brake service?

Brake Service Wilmington NC - Brake Service Leland NC

Today’s modern cars, trucks and SUVs use disc brake systems. These brake systems are made of up three major components: brake pads, rotors and calipers. It’s possible that not every component will need to be replaced during a brake service. Our experienced and well- trained technicians can identify which parts are worn or at the end of their life span. It’s worth noting that when a part is replaced on one side of your vehicle, its matching counterpart also should be replaced. For example, if you need to replace your left brake pad, the right pad should be replaced during the same service visit.

Brake Pads

Brake pads are typically the first thing that we inspect during a brake service. Our technicians look at the depth or thickness of each pad. This indicates how well the pads are working to stop the vehicle. Brake pads are soft and designed to wear down over time. On average they should be replaced every 50,000 miles. But some need to be replaced after 25,000, while others can last for 70,000 miles.


Brake pads are designed to press against the rotors to slow a vehicle’s speed. The friction between the brake pads and rotors is what brings a vehicle to a stop. The rotors are the largest and heaviest part of a disc brake system. They are typically shaped like circular metal plates. Like brake pads, rotors also have certain specifications for depth, or thickness. During an inspection, technicians measure the rotors’ depth to make sure they are up to code. A very small distortion in the rotors can cause significant problems for disc brakes systems, so it’s important that these are kept in optimal condition to prevent damage to the calipers and other brake components.


The calipers wrap around the brake pads and rotors. The caliper assembly contains a hydraulic piston (or pistons) that push the brake pads and rotors together. When a driver presses on the brake pedal, brake fluid is pushed through a hose, called the brake line. The brake line connects to the pistons, and it is the force, or pressure, of the brake fluid that makes the pistons move.

Calipers do not wear down over time like pads and rotors. However, they are more complex than pads and rotors, and are typically the most expensive component to replace in a brake system. Calipers can have single pistons or multiple pistons. When issues arise with the calipers, it is typically related to a problem with one or more pistons. The brake fluid is essential to disc brake operation, so it’s important that your vehicle has the correct amount of brake fluid and no fluid leaks.

Brake Service Wilmington, NC

At O’Leary’s Automotive Repair, we offer affordable, quality brake service in Wilmington, N.C. for a wide range of vehicles. We have many disc-brake assembly components in stock and also can order parts for a variety of vehicles. We offer five convenient locations in Wilmington and surrounding areas, including Leland and Hampstead. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our brake services.