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Find the Best Brake Service at Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn, WI

You become accustomed to your brakes – their sound, the feel of the pedal, and how quickly they halt your vehicle. Then, one day, your brakes just don't feel right. They make strange noises, the pedal feels odd, and you need to press it further. Most concerning of all, stopping takes longer.

At Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn Service Center, we recognize that change in your brakes is unavoidable. Brake pads and rotors experience wear and tear due to the extreme friction and heat they face. Air enters brake lines, and dozens of other components in your brake system can wear out at any moment. Our Kunes Service Center technicians’ expertise is needed to restore your confidence in braking.

When you visit us for any brake issue, our Kunes Service Center professional technicians perform comprehensive inspections on your brakes. We then take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle's condition and inform you which problems are urgent (and which can be postponed). We also discuss the most suitable options for your budget and provide a written estimate before conducting any repairs.

Kunes Brake Services

  • Brake Inspection – to identify the cause of a soft brake pedal, determine why your brake light is on, or simply check your brakes as part of regular maintenance.
  • Brake Pad Replacement – for standard brake maintenance.
  • Brake Rotor Service – to accompany your brake pad replacement. We'll level out brake pad wear if needed or recommend new rotors if necessary.
  • Brake Shoe Replacement – similar to brake pad replacement but for drum-style brakes.
  • Brake Drum Service – similar to brake rotor service but for drum-style brakes.
  • Brake Fluid Service – from routine brake fluid exchange to brake fluid leak repair.
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) Service – covering everything from ABS sensors to the system computer module.
  • Brake Repair – addressing all parts of your brake system, from the power brake booster to the parking brake assembly.

Whether you suspect a brake issue (due to your brake light, pedal, or a suspicious leak) or have reached your vehicle's recommended service interval, start by scheduling a brake service appointment at your local Kunes Service Center.

What is included in brake service?

Typical brake services include:

  • Brake pad or brake shoe replacement
  • Brake rotor resurfacing or brake drum turning
  • Brake rotor or drum replacement
  • Brake fluid exchange or flushing
  • Brake line leak repair
  • Brake light diagnosis

The components included in a brake job depend on the lifecycle of each part. For instance, you may not need new rotors when replacing brake pads. However, some brake services must be performed on both wheels of the same axle. Multiple systems in your vehicle are designed to have matching parts on both sides of your vehicle.

A brake inspection should encompass a review of all brake components and connectors, dashboard lights, external brake lights, brake fluid condition, and hydraulic pressure throughout the brake lines.

How often should my brakes be serviced?

Depending on your vehicle, environment, brake components, and driving habits, your brake pads or shoes may last between 20,000 and 80,000 miles. Brake fluid can last 2-5 years. With such an unpredictable replacement cycle, regular brake inspections are crucial.

 

Consult your vehicle owner's manual for your brake inspection schedule – every 10,000-12,000 miles or every year are standard recommendations.

How can I tell when I need new brakes?

New brake pads, rotors, or brake fluid may be needed if you notice any unfamiliar sound or diminished pedal response when braking. Worn brake pads can squeak and worsen until you hear the grinding sound of unprotected rotors.

 

Worn pads and low brake fluid pressure can both cause a distressing delay in pedal response. Warped rotors can lead to vibrations while braking (not to be mistaken for the normal pulsing sensation when your ABS engages).

What are the indicators and symptoms of failing brakes?

Here are some typical signs of deteriorating brakes:

  • Dashboard lights or warnings - Your BRAKE light, ABS light, or Check Engine light may signal brake issues.
  • Leaking brake fluid - Any fluid leak should be examined.
  • Any change in brake response - Increased stopping time or needing to press the pedal further are classic signs of brake problems.
  • Any new noise when braking - Squealing, grinding, squeaking, or rattling? Inspect the brake pads and rotors. Hissing sounds? A brake fluid leak may be the culprit.
  • Any shaking or vibration when braking - Rough stops could indicate warped rotors. (However, a pulsing pedal might simply be your ABS in action.)
  • Soft or spongy brakes - Spongy brakes suggest a problem with your brake fluid lines or brake shoes.
  • Hard or stiff brakes - Contaminants in the brake fluid or a faulty seal on the master cylinder or brake booster could be the cause.
  • Engine misfiring or stalling - A malfunctioning power brake booster might be the issue.
  • Vehicle pulling to one side when braking - This could be due to defective brake hardware or an uneven hydraulic problem.

Brake Fluid Service

What transforms your foot's pressure on a pedal into a powerful force capable of halting your vehicle? Part of this magic occurs in your brake lines, where the fluid inside conveys the hydraulic pressure that activates your brakes.

 

If your brake fluid level drops too much, your brake lines can't generate as much pressure, making it harder for you, your pedal, and other braking system components to stop the vehicle.

 

If you lose too much pressure, your brakes can fail.

Frequent Brake Fluid Issues

Hydraulic pressure in your brake lines can decrease for several reasons, involving various brake components. Still, the three main themes are:

  • Brake fluid loss.
  • Air in the brake lines.
  • Aged or polluted brake fluid.

Regardless of your brake fluid's condition, a brake inspection is always the first step.

How does air enter your brake lines?

A car's brake fluid level can decline due to normal brake system wear and brake fluid leaks. Air enters the brake lines to fill the vacuum created by lost fluid. It can enter because the brake line system isn't completely airtight and is exposed to the air each time someone checks your brake fluid level.

What color is brake fluid?

New brake fluid varies from colorless to light brown or amber, while older brake fluid is often darker brown. Old brake fluid can carry debris that, over time, may damage the seals on your master cylinder and brake calipers. However, color alone doesn't indicate when to replace your brake fluid.

 

Instead of relying on brake fluid color to determine when to change fluid, the Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association's (AMRA) Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) recommends brake fluid testing by a qualified technician. Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn Service Center can test your brake fluid for depleted corrosion inhibitors and incorrect fluid added, among other things.

What happens when you have aged or contaminated brake fluid?

Like motor oil, brake fluid has additives that combat corrosion and fluid breakdown. Similar to motor oil, brake fluid is periodically replaced to maintain its protective and performance properties. Another reason brake fluid doesn't last forever is contamination. It absorbs water from the atmosphere each time it's exposed to the air. Over time, this moisture can cause rust and corrosion in your brake system's internal metal components.

Why is my brake fluid low?

A vehicle's brake fluid decreases either due to leaks or from normal brake operation. As your brake pads and/or shoes wear down, more space forms between the pads and/or shoes and the brake rotors and/or drums in their resting position. More brake fluid is needed to cover that larger space and reach the wheels, thus lowering the brake fluid level.

What happens when you have low brake fluid?

Low brake fluid starts with air in your brake lines (resulting in a spongy brake pedal) and can escalate to a critical loss of hydraulic pressure in the brake lines (leading to brake failure). If your brake fluid level is low due to normal operation, it will gradually escalate to bigger problems.

 

However, if you let it get too low, you risk introducing air into expensive parts like your anti-lock brake system (ABS). If you have a brake fluid leak, there is no way to know how quickly your brake performance will deteriorate. As soon as you notice any difference in your brake response, or signs of a brake fluid leak, have your brakes inspected as soon as possible.

Can low brake fluid cause spongy brakes?

Although brake fluid problems are often responsible for spongy brakes, several parts of your brake system could be the source of a leak or pressure disruption.

Causes of spongy brakes that can be resolved through regular maintenance include:

  • Low brake fluid - A frequent reason for spongy brakes. Over time, brake fluid levels decrease (even without leaks), and air fills the empty space in the brake lines. If there's no leak, bleeding the brake lines (removing enough fluid to expel the air) and topping off the fluid will restore proper hydraulic pressure.
  • Excess moisture in the system - If too much moisture is present, the brake fluid can overheat and cause brake pedal fade. The solution is to test the brake fluid and replace it if necessary.

Causes of spongy brakes that require diagnosis and repair include:

  • Leaking brake fluid
  • Master cylinder malfunction - this component must function impeccably to deliver the right pressure from the pedal to the brakes.
  • Issues with the ABS hydraulic assembly
  • Leaking calipers (on disc brakes)
  • Brake shoe adjustment problems (on drum brakes)

Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn Service Center technicians are well-versed in all aspects of spongy brake origins, from the master cylinder to the calipers and brake shoes. Our team will inform you about what needs immediate attention (and what can wait) and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.

Brake Line Bleeding Service

What does it mean to bleed brake fluid?
Bleeding your brake lines refers to removing air from the brake lines. This is done by draining brake fluid to eliminate air bubbles, then adding enough fluid to restore the correct hydraulic pressure to your brake system.

 

As long as the air in your brake lines isn't caused by a brake fluid leak, bleeding your brakes removes a major cause of mushy or spongy brakes. Bleeding is an alternative to flushing the brake lines when you're not close to your recommended brake fluid change interval.

How does air in my brake lines feel?
The first symptom of air in your brake lines is a soft, spongy, or mushy feeling in your brake pedal. If your brake pressure continues to decline, you'll have to push your brake pedal closer and closer to your vehicle's floor. 

What issues can air in my brake lines create?
Air in brake lines can compress, causing the brake pedal to feel spongy. However, air in the brake lines might also indicate other brake problems, ranging from worn braking system components to brake fluid leaks. Some of these issues can result in brake failure, so early diagnosis of any change in brake response is crucial for road safety.

If the air in your brake lines is due to a brake fluid leak, your brakes could eventually fail!

That's why it's essential to have your brakes inspected as soon as you notice any change in your brake pedal or brake response.

Brake Fluid Flush Service

The term "Brake Flush" is commonly used by automotive shops to describe the process of draining, filling, or exchanging the brake fluid in an automotive brake system. Sometimes, a flush chemical such as denatured alcohol is used if a contaminant (like power steering or transmission fluid) has entered the hydraulic portion of your brake system. This decontamination procedure is the most technical definition of a brake fluid flush, and some experts refer to this procedure as a chemical flush.

 

Outside of the chemical flush scenario, periodic brake fluid exchange is typically recommended for routine maintenance. This process simply involves removing your old brake fluid and replacing it with new fluid. Many shops call this process a "Brake Flush" even though flush chemicals are not used.

How do I know when my brake fluid should be replaced?

  • On many vehicles, your dashboard brake light will activate if your brake fluid reaches a low level -- check your vehicle manual for specifics.
  • Your brake fluid is near the minimum mark on the master cylinder reservoir.
  • On a white towel, the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir is medium brown or darker. (New brake fluid is light brown, amber, or clear.)

How often should brake fluid be changed?
Brake fluid can last anywhere from two to five years, so check your vehicle manual for your recommended brake fluid maintenance cycle. If your vehicle manufacturer does not recommend a specific maintenance schedule for brake fluid replacement (often called brake fluid flush), monitor your brake fluid level, and have the fluid tested with every oil change. Schedule a brake inspection at the first sign of spongy brakes. Our Kunes Service Center technicians can help you decide when it's time for new brake fluid.

 

To help detect brake problems early, it's a smart precaution to check your brake fluid with each oil change. And remember: Our technicians check your brake lines and fluid levels as part of every oil change.

How can I tell if my brake fluid is leaking?

  • A puddle of clear, amber, or brown fluid where you park your car.
  • The brake fluid level in your master cylinder reservoir drops faster than usual.
  • A spongy brake pedal or other differences in brake response.
  • Your dashboard brake light comes on.

Any of these signs means your brakes should be inspected by a qualified mechanic.

To begin investigating your brake fluid leak, trust our professional technicians at Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn Service Center for a comprehensive brake inspection. Your Kunes technician will explain the cause of your leak and provide a written estimate before making any repairs

Maintaining the proper brake fluid level and quality is essential for the optimal performance and safety of your vehicle's braking system. Understanding the various factors that can impact your brake fluid, such as leaks, air in the brake lines, and contamination, is crucial for ensuring timely inspections and necessary services.

Our experienced technicians at Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn Service Center, are committed to providing thorough brake inspections and offering expert advice on the best course of action for your specific situation. We prioritize customer satisfaction and safety, making sure you can confidently get back on the road with a well-maintained braking system.

 

Schedule a brake inspection or fluid service with us today and experience the superior service and peace of mind that comes with trusting your vehicle to Kunes Service Center.

Brake Rotors

What are brake discs?
A brake disc, also known as a rotor, is a metal plate connected to a vehicle's wheel hub that works with the brake pads to halt the vehicle. The disc is positioned within a caliper, which holds the brake pads on both sides of the disc. When you apply the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure from the brake fluid forces a piston(s) to press the brake pads against the disc, stopping your wheels. Brakes consisting of a disc, brake pads, and calipers are referred to as disc brakes.

The other prevalent brake type is the drum brake, which use shoes instead of pads and drums rather than discs. The majority of new cars now have disc brakes on all four wheels or disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear wheels.

Brake discs degrade over time due to friction with the brake pads. However, replacing the discs isn't always necessary when changing brake pads. In many cases, discs can be resurfaced one or more times to extend their lifespan.

 

However, each resurfacing reduces the thickness of the discs, eventually necessitating replacement. Always adhere to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations when changing discs.

How can I tell if I need new brake discs?
Here are some indicators that it's time to examine your brake discs for potential resurfacing or replacement:

  • A high-pitched screeching noise from your brakes – This is the infamous "metal on metal" sound indicating that your brake pads are entirely worn. Your metal calipers are likely causing deep grooves in your discs.
  • Squeaking brakes – Brake pad material has adhered to the disc.
  • Vibrations or shuddering while braking – Your brake discs may be distorted.


Before reaching this point, your mechanic can inform you if your discs are too worn from brake pad contact to be safely resurfaced. Mechanics must replace any disc that has worn below the manufacturer-specified minimum thickness.

The most convenient time to inspect the discs is during a brake inspection. On most vehicles, it's challenging to examine your brake discs without removing the wheels. Your Kunes technician will advise you if it's time for new discs now or if the task can be postponed.

What causes grooves in brake discs?
Brake discs are designed to wear down in the shape of brake pads, and these indentations can often be resurfaced (until the disc becomes too thin and requires replacement). Grooves can also be caused by foreign objects under the brake pads, corrosion, or softer metal in the discs compared to the brake pads. As long as the groove isn't deeper than the disc's minimum thickness, these can also be resurfaced.

What causes brake discs to warp?
The primary cause of brake disc warping is excessive heat buildup, which can result from:

  • Glazing due to brake pad material – Fragments of brake pad material can adhere to the disc.
  • Discs that are too thin to dissipate heat – Discs become thin due to regular use (and resurfacing during brake service). When they're below the manufacturer's minimum thickness, it's time for new discs.

What are the signs of a faulty master cylinder?
Spongy brakes are one of several indications of a malfunctioning master cylinder, which occurs when the cylinder's seals are too worn to maintain pressure from the brake pedal to the brake lines.

Brake Inspection

The primary function of your vehicle's brake system is to halt your car, but it requires numerous components working in unison to accomplish that task. Each component has its own distinct replacement schedule.

 

Our skilled Kunes Service Center technicians first carry out a comprehensive assessment of every element of your brake system. Our inspections cover both common issues, such as brake pads and fluid leaks, as well as more elusive culprits like slow-leaking power brake booster seals that could potentially cause your vehicle to stall.

 

If we detect a problem with your brakes, we provide an assessment of what requires immediate attention and what can be deferred. Our team will take the time to carefully explain your vehicle's condition and offer a written estimate before conducting any repairs.

What does a brake inspection entail?
A brake inspection should always involve a detailed examination of your entire brake system, from the pedal to the rotors and drums (the brake components connected to your wheels). Your brake lines should be inspected for leaks and appropriate hydraulic pressure during the process. Even your external brake lights should be tested.

Kunes CDJR of Elkhorn Service Center's brake service inspects the following major components (as well as smaller parts such as seals and connectors):

  • Dashboard alerts like BRAKE and ABS Lights
  • Brake Pedal
  • Power Brake Booster
  • Brake Fluid Reservoir
  • Master Cylinder
  • Brake Lines/ Hoses
  • ABS Hydraulic Unit (if applicable)
  • ABS Controller & other ABS components (if applicable)

 

On Drum Brakes:

  • Backing Plate
  • Wheel Cylinder
  • Brake Shoes
  • Parking Brake/Adjuster Assembly
  • Brake Hardware

 

On Disc Brakes:

  • Hub Bearing Assembly
  • Brake Disc (rotor)
  • Brake Pads
  • Brake Pad Shims
  • Caliper Assembly
  • Brake Hardware

Following the inspection, the Kunes service advisor will offer a written estimate to address any brake problems they identify and will help you prioritize what requires immediate attention (and what can be postponed) before performing the repairs

How frequently should my brakes be inspected?
It's typical to have your brakes inspected annually or every 10,000-12,000 miles, but consult your vehicle owner's manual for the suggested brake inspection interval for your model.

Additionally, have your brakes examined by a mechanic as soon as you notice any of these brake issues:

  • Dashboard lights or warnings - Depending on your vehicle, your BRAKE light, ABS light, or
  • Check Engine light may signal various brake problems.
  • Brake fluid leakage - Any fluid leak should be investigated.
  • Any change in brake performance - Issues such as taking longer to stop, needing to depress the pedal further towards the floor, or requiring more pressure while holding the brakes downhill indicate potential brake problems.
  • Unusual noises while braking - Sounds such as squealing, grinding, squeaking, or rattling may indicate issues with brake pads and rotors. Hissing noises can suggest brake fluid leaks or air in the brake lines. Clunking, knocking, or clicking sounds may point to suspension problems.
  • Shaking or vibrating during braking - Rough stops could be due to warped rotors.
  • Alternatively, a pulsating brake pedal during a hard stop signifies your ABS system is functioning.
  • Soft or spongy brakes - Spongy brakes often indicate low brake fluid, air in the brake lines, or specific brake shoe issues.
  • Hard or stiff brakes - Contaminants in the brake fluid or faulty seals on the master cylinder or brake booster may be the cause.
  • Engine misfiring or stalling - A defective power brake booster may be to blame.
  • Vehicle veering to one side when braking - This could be due to faulty brake hardware or uneven hydraulic issues, which can also cause uneven brake pad wear.

How long does a brake inspection take?
Typically, brake inspections take under 30 minutes as a standalone service. Additional time will be required for any repairs or maintenance to your brakes. Your Kunes service advisor will supply a written estimate and a thorough explanation of any identified brake issues prior to performing repairs.

What are ABS brakes and their function?

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are designed to stop your vehicle's wheels from locking up (and skidding) during emergency braking and other challenging situations. ABS operates using electronic sensors and high-pressure pumps that, under specific circumstances, can monitor your vehicle's speed, wheel slippage, and brake force. When the sensors identify a skidding risk, your ABS system actually applies the brakes for you, with greater speed and accuracy than a human driver can achieve.

How do ABS brakes benefit you? 
ABS assists you in maintaining control of your vehicle when stopping suddenly or braking on slippery surfaces. By preventing wheel lock, you retain traction and steering while stopping, instead of skidding. In some vehicles, ABS may also reduce the braking distance necessary for safe stopping, although this is not their primary purpose.

Why is my ABS warning light illuminated?
The ABS warning light could be on due to a regular system check, or it could be signaling an issue with your ABS brake system:

  • Routine self-check (the light is briefly on at startup)
  • Malfunctioning ABS computer module
  • Damaged or corroded ABS sensor
  • Faulty wheel bearing
  • Dirty tone ring
  • Problem external to the ABS and brake systems that impacts the ABS sensors or module (low car battery, electrical issues)

What should I do if my ABS warning light comes on?
When the ABS light comes on, the solution depends on when it’s activated.

  • ABS light flashes at startup (then turns off): Your ABS system has just completed (and passed) its routine self-test. No need for concern.
  • ABS light comes on at startup (and remains on): Your ABS self-test has discovered a problem. Your brakes will still function, but their anti-lock feature will be disabled. Drive cautiously, keeping this missing safety feature in mind, until you have your ABS system inspected.
  • ABS light comes on while driving: Your ABS system has stopped working. The issue might be temporary, but if the light remains on after your next startup, schedule an appointment.
  • ABS and brake lights come on: In many vehicles, this indicates a brake system problem. Your vehicle is not safe to drive. Carefully pull over at the first safe opportunity and call for a tow.
  • Brake light turns amber: In some vehicles, an amber brake light serves as the ABS light.

Anytime your ABS light remains on after startup, you should schedule an appointment with us for ABS service. After inspecting your ABS, your Kunes Service advisor will explain what is necessary and what's optional, providing you with a written estimate before any work is performed.

Is it safe to drive with the ABS light on?
It is safe to drive with the ABS light on if your brakes are functioning normally, but it is less safe than driving with a working anti-lock brake system. In situations where ABS would usually engage, you're at an increased risk of brake lock and skidding if the ABS light is on. It is a good idea to have your ABS checked as soon as possible.

Is it safe to drive with both the ABS light and brake light on?
Driving with both the ABS and brake light on is unsafe for most vehicles. In most cases, the brake light warns of issues such as low brake fluid or low brake pads. On some older vehicles, the brake light will activate alongside the ABS light to alert you to an ABS system issue. If your vehicle is not one of these, it's best to err on the side of caution, assume your brakes are unreliable, and consult your local Kunes expert as soon as possible.

Why does my brake pedal sometimes pulsate?
If your brake pedal pulsates during sudden stops or on slippery roads, it's likely your ABS in action, applying the brakes. Keep your foot on the brake until your vehicle comes to a complete stop.

Various brake issues can cause the brake pedal to pulsate. If your vehicle feels different without an apparent reason, it's a good idea to request a brake inspection appointment at Kunes.

What is the difference between ABS and traditional brakes?
The primary difference between ABS and traditional brakes lies in the way they respond to emergency braking and slippery conditions. Traditional brakes may lock up the wheels during hard braking or when braking on slick surfaces, resulting in skidding and a potential loss of control. ABS, on the other hand, prevents wheel lock-up by automatically and rapidly pumping the brakes, maintaining traction and steering control.

How do I know if my vehicle has ABS?
To determine if your vehicle is equipped with ABS, you can refer to your owner's manual or look for an ABS warning light on your dashboard. When you start your vehicle, the ABS light should briefly illuminate as part of a routine system check. If your vehicle doesn't have an ABS light, it is likely not equipped with an ABS system.

Is ABS maintenance required?
Like any other component of your vehicle, the ABS system requires regular maintenance and inspection to ensure proper functioning. While the ABS system is designed to be reliable, sensors and other components may eventually wear out or become damaged. Regular brake inspections can help identify any ABS-related issues and ensure that the system is working as intended. Always consult your vehicle owner's manual for recommended maintenance intervals and procedures.

Can I retrofit my vehicle with ABS?
Retrofitting a vehicle with ABS can be a complex and costly process. In most cases, it is not practical or cost-effective to retrofit a non-ABS vehicle with an ABS system. If you're looking to upgrade to a vehicle with better braking capabilities, it may be more sensible to consider purchasing a vehicle that comes equipped with ABS from the factory.

 

To sum it up, ABS brakes provide enhanced safety and control during emergency braking and challenging driving conditions. It is essential to maintain your vehicle's ABS system and address any warning lights or unusual brake pedal sensations promptly. Regular brake inspections and maintenance can help ensure your ABS system remains in optimal working condition, contributing to a safer driving experience.

Recap on How Brakes Function

Pressing the brake pedal forces the fluid in your master cylinder through the brake lines, exerting hydraulic pressure on the brakes. This pressure brings the brake pads or shoes into contact with the rotors and/or drums, generating friction that slows down and stops your vehicle.

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