86 how to maintain your cars brakes

how to maintain your cars brakes


By Jamie Rogers on 2018-07-08 11:14:32

A car can be a glorious thing giving you independence, the ability to go wherever you want, a load lugger, practicality with shopping, a family tool so many things, but it can also be a danger, especially when it hasn't been maintained properly.

Truthfully, how many people take a good look around their car before setting out on any journey? Or regularly inspect the tyres, brakes, filters etc before using it? Not many, in fact, quite possibly no one, unless the journey is some sort of road trip where youre expecting to rack up the miles.

Most people will stick to their regular service schedule when the car is in warranty, but that tends to slide a little as the car gets older, worthless money and isn´t quite so loved. This means that problems go unnoticed until it really is a problem, leaving you stranded by the roadside, or worse still, in an accident.

Preventative Maintenance

There are so many components in an average car (around 30,000) that all play a vital role in how your car performs, some are easily broken, others wear out, and the remainder is designed to be there for the life of the car.

However, understanding what´s wearing out as part of their purpose and what´s wearing out when it shouldn´t be is a good skill to have it means that you can spot any early failures happening before they actually bring you to a stop and allows you to keep an eye on the more important things like brakes.

Brakes are designed to wear out, and depending on the vehicle (assuming standard parts are fitted, or at least alternative aftermarket), they should last quite some time. This means that the average owner gives little thought to them, only really taking notice when they start making a noise, or when something doesn´t feel right.

Brake Problems

We´ve listed a few problems that can have an effect on braking, but the list isn´t exhaustive or definitive.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is used in any hydraulic braking system (which is pretty much on all newish cars) to operate the pistons inside the caliper, pushing the pads against the disc (or rotor). It can get contaminated, but it´s also hygroscopic, which means it takes in moisture from the air, and the more moisture in it, the less pressure it can produce, and the moisture lowers the boiling temperature of the fluid, meaning it could literally boil up, leaving you with no brakes

Worn Pads

This is the most common cause of braking problems the brake pads are designed to wear away over time, and due to the fact that they can last years, people tend to forget about them. Much newer brake pads have wear indicators fitted, either sending an electronic signal to a light on the dash, or with an audible signal. If your car is regularly serviced, these should be inspected as part of the service routine, so in theory, you don´t need to worry, but for a lot of older cars, servicing just doesn´t happen. If your car hasn´t been serviced by a professional, it´s worth just taking a look at them.

Worn or Cracked Discs

A brake disc has a very hard life it needs to be able to heat up and cool down without cracking, along with being put under enormous pressure from the brake calipers & pads. You can expect to see a the degree of crazing´ on the surface (tiny little cracks, but surface only), but should the disc itself crack through, there will be a safety issue. Determining whether the disc is cracked is quite difficult, although you can quite often feel it through your brake pedal if you get any unnatural feeling/shuddering through your brake pedal, you should always get them checked as a matter of priority.

Seized Calipers

Many brake calipers are designed to ’«float´ sliding on a fixed pin, allowing them to move as the pads wear down. Sometimes, the caliper can seize on the pin, meaning that it doesn´t move, which in turn can lead to premature wear or odd wear patterns, so even with new pads fitted, there is a chance that if they haven´t been fitted correctly (with the caliper cleaned, greased and inspected), they could wear within a very short space of time.

Legalities

It´s worth noting that if you´re involved in any kind of incident or accident, there is a good chance that the Police could inspect your vehicle for contributing faults faulty or worn tyres and brakes are the starting points, and in today's world, the Police view is that there are no ’«accidents´ someone is always at fault.

, Of course, we have an annual MOT for cars older than two years and that´s designed to ensure that your car complies with all legislation and is ’«roadworthy´, but you should know that an MOT Certificate is no guarantee of roadworthiness, even just a day after the test, although in most cases, it is a good indicator.

Good Car Karma

Taking a few minutes every few weeks to give your car a quick once over is good practice checking the oil level, screenwash, tyre pressures mean that there´s less chance of them causing a problem (and yes, it´s an offense to have an empty screenwash reservoir). You shouldn´t be afraid to lift the bonnet of your car now and again, and spotting problems early on could literally save you thousands of pounds in bills, and perhaps a motoring conviction.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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