Maintaining and Repairing Acura Brake Systems

Acura is the luxury line of Japanese automaker Honda and offers a full line of models in nearly every category, from the Acura ILX compact sedan to the RDX crossover SUV. Acura vehicles are known for their reliability and cutting edge technology. Whether you own a brand new Acura CDX luxury CUV or the venerable Integra sports coupe, at some point you'll need to maintain or repair your brake system. The brake system in your Acura vehicle is a system of parts that goes into action when you step on the brake pedal and it works to slow and eventually stop your vehicle's forward or reverse motion. Needless to say, this is an important safety system in your Acura and you want to make sure it's working properly at all times.

Typical Acura Brake System and Parts

There are variations in brake systems, but a typical modern brake system generally consists of the following:

  • Disk brakes on the front
  • Disk or drum brakes in the rear
  • A connection system of tubes and hoses
  • Master cylinder
  • Parking brake
  • Anti-lock brake system

Disk brake systems include the following parts:

  • Rotors
  • Calipers
  • Brake pads

Drum brake systems include the following parts:

  • Brake drum
  • Brake shoes
  • Backing plate
  • Wheel cylinder
  • Return springs

When you press the brake pedal down, you're creating leverage to slow your car's motion. The master cylinder plunger pushes brake fluid through the connecting tubes and hoses, known as brake lines, to the braking system located on each wheel. In a disk brake setup, the brake fluid goes into a caliper, which presses a piston. The piston then clamps the two brake pads onto the rotor. The rotor is attached to the wheel and the force stops the wheel from turning, which slows and stops the car. In a drum brake system, the brake fluid goes into the wheel cylinder and the brake shoes get pushed out so they press against the drum. Like the rotor, the drum is attached to the wheel and this contrary force causes the wheel to stop turning. In the case of both disk and drum parts, the heat causes friction and friction is what eventually wears out the parts.

The parking brake should be used whether you have a manual or automatic transmission. It helps to adjust the rear brakes and ensure that the cables do not get corroded, which will make the parking brake inoperable.

Maintaining and Repairing Acura Brake Systems

As previously mentioned, your brake system is the most important safety system in your car. Being unable to stop or having difficulty stopping is extremely dangerous. Maintaining your brake system is paramount to keep it reliable and performing as it should. Most brake system parts have a fairly long lifespan, but they can be negatively influenced by your driving habits. Traveling at excessive speeds, tailgating and towing are three activities that can significantly reduce the lifespan of your brake parts. The following are some maintenance activities you can regularly engage in:

  • Keeping the right level of brake fluid and replace it every 50,000 miles or two years
  • Check brake pads and shoes for signs of excessive wear
  • Regularly check your brake lights on the rear of your vehicle
  • Check and regularly use your parking brake
  • Check for pedal issues such as excessive travel or a hard or spongy feel

The following are some symptoms of brake system issues:

  • Brake warning light, which usually means low fluid
  • Vibrations during braking
  • Loud squealing when braking
  • Car pulling to one side when braking
  • Grinding sound when braking

A general service should be performed on the brake system every two years. During this service, the system should be completely inspected. The brake fluid should be replaced and the system bled. At this point, brake pads should be checked and replaced if necessary. It's important to replace brake pads promptly before the friction material has completely worn off. Once it does, the pads have metal on metal contact with the rotor, which will damage the rotor. Rotors can be resurfaced or replaced in extreme cases, but are often turned to get more life. Some brake rotors are not designed to have a resurfacing option and so they must be replaced when worn. Rotors should be smooth, and groves or ridges are signs of damage.

Acura Brake System Repair Notes

If you have an Acura model, you might want to know if it has been flagged for having a common brake system issue. That way you know what to look out for. According to Repair Pal, the following are model-specific issues:

  • Acura TSX can develop a soft brake pedal with excessive travel
  • Acura TL models between 1999 and 2008 have known caliper issues
  • Acura NSX may have a leaky ABS
  • Acura TSX may have premature rear brake wear
  • Acura TSX models between 2004 and 2014 may have caliper issues with grinding and vibration

Acura Collision Mitigation Braking System

Many modern vehicles increasingly have safety technology that stands in for humans to prevent an accident. Acura has the CMBS, or Collision Mitigation Braking System, that takes steps to avoid a collision or reduce its severity. The CMBS has a radar sensor that is located behind the grilles of many modern Acura models. The sensor works to detect objects, including other vehicles, up to 330 feet down the road. When it detects something, the sensor then activates a warning system. The first stage of the warning system is an alert, which includes a warning beep and illuminated lights in the instrument cluster. If the driver responds by increasing the distance between the vehicle and the detected object, then the alert will cease. If not, then the alert continues and it may also automatically depress the brakes lightly. If the driver still doesn't respond, or a sudden situation occurs, the system will brake hard and also use the seat belt retraction option to brace the driver for impact.

Drivers can deactivate this system or adjust the alert activation distance by using the vehicle settings menu. The CMBS is not there to make decisions, but instead to influence driver actions should a situation develop suddenly and before the driver can react.

Acura Brake System FAQs

Q: Why is my car making a squealing noise that goes away when I brake?

A: The wear indicator sensor on the brake pads is alerting you that they need to be replaced.

Q: Why is my car hard to stop and there's excessive brake pedal travel?

A: There might be air in the brake system or your brakes might be on the verge of failure. Get service immediately.

Q: How do I know if I need new brakes?

A: Signs of the brake system needing immediate service include excessive pedal travel, grinding, screeching or squealing when braking, vehicle is hard to stop, or you have a sensor indicating there's a problem with the brake system.

Q: Do I need to use my parking brake, even with a manual transmission?

A: Yes. You should use your parking brake regularly as it helps to adjust your rear brakes.

Come to to find a full range of Acura brake system parts, including calipers, brake pads and rotors. Keep one of the most important systems in your car performing like it should by using only OEM Acura parts for all your repairs and replacements. It's easy to find what you need in our catalog by entering a VIN, part number or keyword. If you need help or have questions, our Acura parts experts are ready to assist.