Everything You Need to Know About Car Brakes

Brakes of a vehicle undergo wear and tear with time and use so, they need to be maintained by car owners to avoid accidents or any other inconvenience. Brake systems are one of the most essential mechanical aspects of the vehicle.

The brake system comprises parts and components that play a part in connecting the brakes to the tires or in operating them. The brake system includes a master cylinder, rotors, calipers, brake fluid reservoir, brake lines, brake pads, and drum brake assembly. The system itself may be complex but maintaining it is easy and every car owner must know about it.

Given below are some beneficial insights about car brakes that car owners must know about for maintaining them.

car brakes

Inspecting Brakes Regularly

Pay attention when you are driving and if you hear any unusual noises or face difficulty while braking, this is a sign that the brakes need to be checked. Clunking sounds indicate a loose brake or suspension. If you hear an abnormal noise, it can indicate a broken brake pad or loose bolt. The braking distance will be impacted if the brakes are damaged. If the vehicle is pulling to one side that is also an indication of mechanical issues such as seized brake calipers or air trapped inside. When the driver presses the pedal, and it is light with an occasional heaviness it is also an indicator that there is air trapped inside and this mechanical defect must be checked. In the case of cars with rear drum brakes, this is also an indication for rear brake adjustment.

Regular checks and maintenance are necessary for the vehicle to function smoothly, and this includes brakes as well. The wheels of modern vehicles are made of steel or alloy that makes it easier to inspect the brake pads, rotors, and calipers. Check uneven wear on brake pads, rust on calipers, and scratches on the rotors.

Checking Brake Fluid

When the car needs to be stopped, the driver pushes the pedal releasing brake fluid through the lines that cause the components to expand and stopping the vehicle. As the pedal depresses pressure is built that is transferred from the master cylinder to the caliper, brake pads, and rotors through brake fluid flowing through brake lines. When and how often the brake fluid needs to be checked or replaced depends on the weather and driving habits. Nevertheless, the brake fluid must be checked so that if it needs to be refilled it can be done timely before the brakes begin to falter. When the brake fluid is low, this will put a strain on the master brake cylinder and the rest of the braking system including the brake rotors, brake pads, and drums.

To check the brake fluid level, make sure that the vehicle is parked on a leveled surface. Then, check whether the fluid is between the max and min lines. Otherwise, refill the fluid using the recommended fluid from a sealed container. You can check the owner’s manual to find out the recommended fluid for the vehicle or consult a professional.

As the brake fluid transfers heat across the braking system. It absorbs moisture that can be damaging for the braking system. This moisture can cause corrosion to the metal of the brakes, reduce the boiling point of the brake fluid. Eventually reduce the effectiveness of the brakes. It is best to check the brake fluid after every 25,000 miles. That the car covers and replace it if needed. Brake fluid is golden, but if it turns into a milky-colored fluid. It means that it has been contaminated and needs to be replaced.

Some vehicles also have a brake warning light that will turn on due to several reasons including low brake fluid level. Low brake pad friction material thickness, unbalanced hydraulic fluid flow, and activation of the parking brake. Do not ignore this warning and check what could be the reason for the warning. Modern-day vehicles have systems in place that alert car owners to check brakes with an alert mentioning BRAKE on the dashboard.

Check Underbelly

The undercarriage of the vehicle comes in contact with coarse surfaces during the commute. With regular exposure, the materials exposed in the underbody get damaged. This also includes brake lines, even though the modern-day vehicles have introduced systems. That alert drivers in case the brake lines are damaged or if the brake reservoir is low on brake fluid. It is best to get the undercarriage checked regardless to avoid undetected damage from escalating.

Bleed Brake Line

In case the brake lines have excess air consider bleeding the brake lines to remove it. When excess air is trapped inside the brake line, it will impact the efficiency of the brakes. For bleeding the brake, depress the brake pedal and adjust the bleeder valve.  Ideally, this practice should be repeated after 2-3 years.

Replacement and Upgrades of Parts

In case there is any damage, do not delay getting help as this is a massive safety hazard. If a component needs to be replaced. It can be a good idea to consider an upgrade to improve performance and overall driving experience. For example, you can consider upgrades like ceramic pads or slotted disc brakes.

Bottom Line

Car owners should consider consulting the owner’s manual. To check the ideal brake fluid to use and the brake maintenance schedule to follow. Ideally, brake pads last between 20,000 to 40,000 miles, whereas brake fluid must be replaced after every 25,000 miles. It is also recommended to get the brakes checked after every 10,000 miles or every third oil change. Brake maintenance should not be taken lightly as damage to brakes is a major safety hazard that can lead to financial loss and fatal accidents. Consider the tips mentioned above to improve your brake maintenance routine.

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