Why Regular Brake Maintenance is Essential
The brakes are probably your car’s most fundamental and important safety features. Without properly working brakes, your car is simply not roadworthy in any sense of the word. How is it that you keep your brakes in good working order? In today’s blog, we’ll be giving you all the reason why regular brake maintenance is the only way to do just that.
Here are all the best reasons to explain why regular brake maintenance is essential:
1. Potential Brake Failure
Let’s start with the worst-case scenario. Failing to perform proper checks and maintenance on your brakes is a fast-track ticket to the nightmare of experiencing brake failure. Whether you’re slowly reversing out of your driveway and someone crosses your path, or you’re driving at 70mph on the motorway, not having your brakes there when you need them can have deadly and devastating results.
If you only get your brakes checked and fixed up when needed for one reason alone, you should probably make it this one. The brakes should be checked with every tyre rotation, or if you experience any of the classic signs of brake trouble (see further below for more).
2. You Could Lose Control of the Vehicle
Part of the worst-case scenario described above is a situation in which you have lost control over your vehicle. Your accelerator and brakes work in tandem as the chief movement controls in your car. One is useless without the other. If your brakes are even a little defective, it greatly upsets the important balance that has to exist between these two components.
3. Uneven Brakes Won’t Work As Well
Brakes don’t have to completely fail for your control over your car to become compromised. If certain components are damaged or warped, then it can significantly hinder their performance. For example, even minor unevenness in the brake rotors caused by overly worn brake pads not being replaced can cause braking to become diminished.
There are always signs that the brakes are in need of repair. One such sign is a very thin brake pad that is less than 1.5mm in thickness. A thickness of 1.5mm is the minimum legal threshold in the UK for brake pads. If it’s less, then it is deemed unsafe. The brake pads should help you in knowing when it’s time for a change, though, because they will make a screeching sound when they are getting low. Take these warnings seriously to protect the brakes from any damage.
4. Callipers Can Go Wrong, Too
Besides brake pads wearing down and rotors warping, the brake callipers that use cylinders to push your brake pads against the rotors can also go wrong without any obvious or immediate signs. Sometimes, callipers can get stuck and the piston stops moving the pad forward. If this happens in one wheel, it will cause your braking to be uneven, which makes losing control of the car most possible. If it happens on multiple wheels, it can produce even worse results.
Signs that You Need Brake Maintenance and/or Repair
It’s easy to explain why brakes are important, but what drivers really benefit from is practical knowledge that will help them understand when it’s time to seek help with the brakes. First and foremost, you should never skip a check on the brakes whenever you have your tyres rotated or when you get your wheel alignment checked. It should also be a part of your regular annual service, of course.
Between those times, you should be aware of the following warning signs that indicate your brakes might warrant some professional attention.
Sign 1: A Squealing/Squeaking from the Brake Pads
We touched on this one further above. The brake pads will let you know that they are getting low when they start to emit a squeaking sound. You might think this is annoying, but instead of trying to drown out the sound by closing the windows and turning up the stereo, how about you drop the car at the garage and let someone see if you need new brake pads? Your passengers and other road users will thank you for it, as will your brake rotors!
Sign 2: You Have a Brake Warning Light on the Dash Display
Take a look at your dashboard lights. Are you seeing an accented circle with an exclamation point in the centre? That’s the warning for brake problems, and that means you need to get them checked immediately. Warning lights in red need immediate action, and you simply cannot procrastinate over them.
Sign 3: Vibrations
When you’re applying the brakes, do you feel some strange vibrations or shaking sensations coming through the steering wheel? This is another classic sign of brake problems. If you’ve recently heard the brakes squeaking, and later you start to get the vibrations (because you ignored the squeaking, perhaps), then your brake rotors could be warped or otherwise damaged. The damaged rotors operating unevenly are what is sending those vibrations up to your wheel.
Sign 4: Brake Fluid Leaks
When you go out to your parked car, have you noticed any fluids on the ground right at the back of the front wheels? Leaking fluids from any part of your car is always bad news, but a brake fluid leak, of course, means diminished brake performance as not enough hydraulic pressure can be created between the cylinder and the brake lines. Such a leak usually indicates that the master cylinder could be in need of replacing.
Sign 5: Spongy Brakes
What does this mean? This refers to the brake pedal specifically. Have you noticed that you’re having to depress the brake pedal much further than usual to get the same braking effect? If so then it could be another sign that your brake fluid is either leaking or contaminated and in need of changing. It’s also a sign of problems in hydraulics in general. Moisture that gets into the braking system from outside really upsets the hydraulic balance between the mechanical components and the brake fluid.
So, never overlook the importance of regular brake maintenance. Make it a regular part of servicing, but also look out for the warning signs. You have the power!