What do you think of when someone mentions car brakes?
For most drivers, car brakes and brake pads are synonymous. That’s because brake pads are the most common item replaced within the braking system. But there’s more to the braking system than brake pads.
Your car’s braking system is one of the most critical safety components, ensuring you can bring your vehicle safely to a stop when needed. It is responsible for slowing and stopping your vehicle, and it is recommended that you get it checked frequently to ensure that it is working correctly.
However, over time, brakes can wear out and require replacement. To save yourself from unnecessary expenses and maintain optimal braking performance, it’s essential to take steps to extend the lifespan of your car’s brakes.
What does that look like?
A detailed look at the components of a brake system
Your car’s braking system consists of several components that work together to slow and stop your vehicle. The primary components of the braking system include brake pads, rotors (or discs), calipers, brake lines, and brake fluid.
The brake pads are designed to create friction against the rotors, stopping the car’s wheels from turning. Over time, the brake pads wear down and need replacement.
Similarly, the rotors can develop grooves or become warped, requiring resurfacing or replacement.
The calipers hold the brake pads and apply pressure as you press down on the brake pedal.
Brake lines carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to the calipers, and any leakage or damage in these lines can compromise braking efficiency.
Regular inspection and maintenance of these components are essential for a well-functioning brake system.
Driving tips for extending the life of your brakes
Your driving habits play a significant role in determining the lifespan of your car’s brakes. Adopting a few easy driving tips can reduce brake wear and prolong their longevity.
High speed = Premature brake pad wear
High-speed driving, followed by sudden and aggressive braking, puts excessive strain on your brakes, causing the pads to wear out faster. Whenever possible, maintain a consistent speed and anticipate the need to slow down or stop in advance, allowing you to brake gradually and reduce stress on the braking system.
Stop two-foot driving
If you’re like some drivers, you might fall into the habit of using your left foot to brake instead of your right foot. This method is called two-foot driving, which leads to slight but continuous contact between the brake pads and the rotors, resulting in increased heat. This causes your brake pads and rotors to wear out faster. Instead, keep your foot off the brake pedal unless you need to decelerate or stop.
Coast when you can
Leaving more space between you and other drivers is safer and allows you to be friendlier to your brake pads. Pay attention to the traffic flow, and coast whenever possible to lower your speed. This works well when driving up a hill. See everyone stopped at a light ahead? Take your foot off the brake pedal early and coast gently forward. This gives your vehicle time to slow down without stomping on the brakes, extending the life of your brake pads.
Stop pouncing on the brakes
Many drivers have a habit of stomping on the brake pedal abruptly, especially in stop-and-go traffic. This aggressive braking style generates excessive heat, causing faster brake pad deterioration. Opt for a smoother braking technique by applying gradual pressure to the pedal, allowing your vehicle’s momentum to aid in slowing down.
Keep your car as light as possible
The heavier your vehicle is, the more force required from your brakes to stop it. Reducing unnecessary weight in your vehicle enhances fuel efficiency and eases the burden on your brakes. Remove unnecessary items from your car’s trunk and interior to lighten the load. The lighter your vehicle, the less strain on your brake system.
Flush your brake lines
Flushing the brake lines and changing the brake fluid regularly has a significant impact on your vehicle’s braking system. Old brake fluid can corrode the brake lines, leading to leaks, ultimately reducing brake pressure. Flushing the brake lines periodically helps remove old fluid, contaminants, and air bubbles, maintaining optimal brake performance and preventing corrosion within the system.
Maintenance checks – Watch for these things
Care about the safety of your vehicle? Want to spend the least amount on repairs? Maintenance checks should be a part of your routine. It’s the easiest way to identify potential issues early on and ensure your braking system’s continued reliability.
Low brake fluid levels
Ensure you regularly check your brake fluid levels and have them topped up when necessary. Low brake fluid levels cause the brake lines to corrode, reducing brake pressure. Also, don’t wait to call a mechanic if you see any leaks.
Brake warning light
If you see the brake warning light come on your dashboard, it could indicate low brake fluid levels, damaged brake pads, worn out brakes, or a malfunctioning sensor. Give your mechanic a call right away to diagnose and fix the problem.
If you hear strange noises while using the brakes, such as squealing or grinding sounds, it could be a sign that your brakes may need attention. Address these noises promptly to prevent more severe damage.
Pulling to the left or right
If your car pulls to one side while braking, it could be a sign of uneven wear on the brake pads. Get them checked immediately.
Pay attention to any changes in your brake pedal’s feel. A spongy or excessively firm brake pedal, or one that requires increased pressure to engage, could indicate air in the brake lines or other hydraulic issues. Get it checked by a professional mechanic.
When was the last time your car’s brake pads were inspected?
Your brakes are not something to take lightly. Your car’s brakes are vital for your safety on the road.
By understanding the components of your brake system, practicing good driving habits, and conducting regular maintenance checks, you’ll ensure your safety while on the road.
Remember, when it comes to brakes, prevention is key, so make brake maintenance a priority and enjoy safe travels on the road.