The brake system is one of the most important safety features of any car. To keep yourself and other motorists safe on the road, it’s important to keep your brake system in good shape. Maintaining your brakes will ensure you have full control over your vehicle even in extreme weather or road conditions. Additionally, it will improve the longevity of your vehicle and make sure it operates at an optimal level for many years.
Taking the time to regularly check on your braking system can also prevent more serious brake problems. Since these issues will likely cost you more in repair costs in the future, you should aim to avoid them as much as possible.
If you do notice signs of faulty brakes, it’s best to visit your local car service shop as soon as possible and have a certified mechanic properly diagnose the problem. Any issues with your car’s braking system would be unwise to ignore.
To make sure you’re safe during the wet and slippery winter months, it’s essential that you understand how to keep your brake system in working order. Here are a few ways you can maintain your brake system.
Be mindful of external pressures
When it comes to brake maintenance, it’s easy to start thinking about the internal mechanisms of your vehicle. However, it’s just as important to consider some of the external factors that affect your brake system. These factors include excessive weight, heavy or sudden braking, and poor road conditions.
If your vehicle is carrying significant weight, your brake pads will have to work harder to stop the car from moving. Additionally, sudden braking can apply an excessive amount of friction on your brake pads. This will cause your pads to wear down faster, which can potentially lead to a malfunctioning system.
Speed is also a factor that you should consider. A car going faster than necessarily will need a lot more force to stop than a car travelling at a slower speed. This will put a lot of pressure on your braking system, increasing the risk of it breaking down. Wet roads can also put similar pressures to your brakes.
In order to keep your brake system working properly for as long as it can, aim to avoid these situations where possible.
Check brake pads and rotors
Due to the amount of pressure and friction exerted, the point of contact between your rotors and brake pads can deteriorate quite easily. Therefore, it’s important to check your pads and rotors regularly.
Overtime, the friction caused by braking will wear down the brake pads and lower their resistance. It’s important to regularly check the depth of the pads to ensure that it provides enough resistance for proper braking.
Besides checking for visual wear and tear, there are a few other ways that you can check the condition of your brake pads. One way is through smell. Because friction produces heat, sometimes your worn brake pads will start to emit a burning odor. If you notice this odor, it’s best to check on your pads immediately. Additionally, if you have difficulty braking or if you need to depress your brake pedal further to get your vehicle to stop, it might be a sign of worn pads.
Other signs that your pads need replacing include strange noises and unusual vibrations.
Check and flush your brake fluids
The brake fluid is an essential part of your braking system. The hydraulic fluid provides the pressure that is used to stop your rotors from spinning. Without brake fluid, your car will not be able to stop safely.
Because it’s such a crucial part of the hydraulic brake system, it’s vital that you check on our brake fluid regularly. Too much moisture in your brake fluid can cause corrosion, which in turn can lead to malfunctioning brakes.
Moisture can find its way into the hydraulic fluid in multiple ways. First, if your hydraulic system has worn seals or damaged caps, water can easily seep through and mix with the fluid. This can be prevented by replacing damaged seals and caps when necessary. Moisture can also occur if the cool air in the reservoir condenses. In this case, you will have to use your system’s built-in hand valve to drain the water from the reservoir.
Of course, a visual inspection is always helpful. If you find that your brake fluids are milky and/or cloudy, it’s a definite sign that it needs to be changed.
As a general rule, you should aim to flush your brake fluid every 40,000km.
Bleed the brake lines
Unfortunately, it’s not just moisture that can affect your brake system. Overtime, small amounts of air can also become trapped in the brake line, creating air bubbles. Since air bubbles are compressible, their presence in the fluid can cause the brake pedal to feel mushy and unresponsive when you step on it.
To solve this problem, you (or a certified mechanic) will have to bleed the brake lines. Bleeding is the process in which the air bubbles in the brake lines are purged.
There are multiple ways to bleed your brake lines. One way is the vacuum method. In this method, a vacuum pump is used to extract the fluid until the bubbles have disappeared. Another method is the reverse method in which a pump is used to move the fluid back up into the master cylinder. As the liquid rises, the air bubbles within it will also rise and eventually escape.
While it is possible to do these repairs by yourself, to avoid potential damage to your system, we recommend that you visit your local mechanic.
Replace or upgrade brake parts
To keep your brakes working properly, sometimes you need to upgrade or replace some of the parts of your braking system.
There are a few ways you can do this.
First, you can increase the disc radius. Brake torque is calculated by multiplying the radius of the rotor discs by the force applied by the brake pads. Thus, increasing the disc’s radium will improve brake torque.
Another way is to increase the friction that is created by the pad and the disc. For this, you can get slotted disc brakes which are considerably more heat resistant, safely allowing for more friction to occur. In addition, you can also get ceramic pads which will lessen the amount of brake dust build-up.
It is essential to make sure that your brake system works properly every single time you’re on the road. Even the slightest fault on your brakes can cause more serious problems in the future. In some cases, it might even cause you to get into an accident.
Your brake system is so important that the RACV in Australia has even recommended the implementation of automated braking systems in newly manufactured vehicles.
So, to keep yourself, your passengers and other drivers safe, make sure you’re taking good care of your car brakes. Consider some of the pointers we’ve listed above and visit your local mechanic if you need to.