Brakes may very well be the main thing that saves your life in situations when you're driving along and something happens. The core concept of a car's braking system is simple. When a car is in motion, brakes use friction to decelerate and eventually stop the car from running. There are a lot of things to know about car brake repair & maintenance. We will be focusing on how to maintain your car's braking system in this post.
Brakes use friction in order to decelerate. The wheel has energy in the form of movement. The brakes apply friction and create heat energy. Once all the movement energy is transformed into heat, your car stops. It's not magic, it's physics. To stop, your car needs friction. This simple concept is what almost all vehicles share in their efforts to come to a stop.
How Your Car Brake System Works
There are several components that make up the car brake system. This includes the brake pedal, brake lines, brake master cylinder, brake calipers, brake pads, and brake rotors. When you step on the brake pedal, the force is transmitted through the brake lines to the brake master cylinder. This component converts the force from the pedal into hydraulic pressure, which is then sent to the brake calipers.
The brake calipers contain pistons that are pushed out by hydraulic pressure. These pistons then apply pressure to the brake pads, which are located on either side of the brake rotor. The friction generated by the brake pads pressing against the rotor causes the car to slow down and eventually come to a stop.
Every car’s brake system has an anti-lock braking system (ABS) which helps prevent the wheels from locking up during emergency braking. ABS sensors on each wheel detect when a wheel is about to lock up and release the brakes briefly to prevent the wheel from skidding.
The brake system is an essential safety feature in your car and it's important to keep it well-maintained to ensure it functions properly. Get your brakes inspected regularly, replace your pad and rotor when needed, and flush/replenish fluids to keep your brakes working correctly.
Common Practices that Damage Your Braking System
Although your brakes will wear out over time, there are certain malpractices that can contribute to this happening sooner rather than later. As a car owner, it’s important to know and be aware of these several common practices that can damage your braking system and potentially compromise your safety on the road. The best thing about knowing these things is that you’ll be able to avoid them and take better care of your brake system instead.
1. Riding your brakes
When you're applying pressure on your brakes continuously or excessively without fully releasing them, you're riding your brakes. This isn't a good thing. Doing this can actually cause excessive wear on your brake pads and rotors which can then lead to overheating, which will reduce the effectiveness of the brakes and increase the risk of your brake failing.
2. Overloading your vehicle
The excess weight can increase the wear on the brake pads and rotors which means they will wear out faster than usual. You'll be replacing your brake pads and rotors more frequently when this happens. Other than this problem, overloading your car can also lead to reducing its braking power and overheating.
3. Neglecting maintenance
Brake maintenance is as important as maintaining how your car looks on the outside. When you fail to replace worn brake pads, brake rotors, or brake fluid, your braking system will be less effective. Don’t let an untoward accident be your sign that your brake needs to be maintained before you do it.
4. Driving aggressively
Constantly accelerating and braking hard, such as in stop-and-go traffic, can put additional strain on your brakes and cause them to wear out more quickly. Follow the road signs, traffic lights, and other street rules in order to avoid using your brakes out of nowhere.
5. Using low-quality brake parts
If you’re using cheap or low-quality brake pads, rotors, or other components in your brake system, don’t wonder why they wear out more quickly or fail under heavy use. Using low-quality products can lead to brake failure.
6. Ignoring warning signs
Squeaking, grinding, or other unusual noises, as well as a mushy or spongy brake pedal, may indicate a problem with your brakes. Ignoring these warning signs can result in a dangerous situation on the road. When you notice any of these signs, call an auto brake repair shop near you and consult with a professional technician.
10 Car Brake System Maintenance Tips
Driving a car is undoubtedly one of the most convenient ways to get around, but with it comes the responsibility of ensuring that the car is always in top-notch condition. One of the most critical systems in any vehicle is the braking system. Proper maintenance of your car's braking system can help you avoid going to expensive car auto repair and, more importantly, keep you safe on the road. Here are 10 tips on how to maintain your car's braking system.
1. Regular Inspection
When was the last time you checked your brake pads, rotors, and calipers for any signs of wear and tear? When was the last time you had your fluid flushed or replaced? Regular inspection of your car’s braking system is essential if you want to stay safe on the road while driving. Even the smallest sign of wear on your brake pads or rust on your rotors should let you know that it’s time to visit professional auto repair services near you. A visual inspection of the braking system can help detect any issues early on and prevent more significant problems down the road.
2. Change Brake Pads Regularly
Do you have your car owner’s manual? It should state there how often you should change your brake pads. Most car manufacturers recommend changing them every 20,000 to 40,000 miles. Brake pads wear out over time due to friction with the rotors. It's important to change them regularly before they wear out completely.
3. Use Quality Brake Pads
The quality of the brake pads that you use can make all the difference. When replacing your brake pads, ensure that you use high-quality brake pads that are designed for your car. Cheap brake pads may be tempting, but they can wear out quickly, which can compromise the effectiveness of your brakes and your safety on the road.
4. Check Brake Fluid Regularly
Your brake fluid transmits the force from the brake pedal to the brake pads. If your brake fluid level is low, your brakes won’t work as well as they used to. You should check the brake fluid level regularly and top it up if it's low. Also, ensure that the brake fluid is clean and free from contaminants.
5. Bleed the Brakes
As time passes, air can get into your car's braking system. This can cause your brakes to become spongy, thus reducing their effectiveness. Bleeding the brakes can help remove air from the system and restore the brakes' efficiency and capacity. You should bleed the brakes every two years or as recommended by the car manufacturer.
6. Keep Your Rotors Clean
As dirt and debris can accumulate on the exterior and interior of your car, the exact same thing happens to your rotors over time. This can cause them to wear out unevenly. Make sure your rotors are clean to prevent premature wear and ensure that your braking system works correctly.
7. Avoid Overloading Your Car
As mentioned earlier, overloading your car can put a lot of strain on your braking system, leading to premature wear and tear. Always ensure that you're within your car's weight limit and avoid carrying heavy loads for extended periods of time. It’s best to check your car’s owner's manual and see how much weight your car can bear.
8. Use Your Brakes Correctly
Stepping on your brakes suddenly and applying too much pressure for prolonged periods of time can shorten the lifespan of your brakes. Avoid sudden stops, and don't ride your brakes unnecessarily. Also, avoid overheating your brakes by using engine braking when going down steep hills.
9. Avoid Hard Braking
Hard braking happens when you don’t keep a presence of mind when driving. Ignoring traffic lights and road signs may cause you to be in a situation where you have to hard brake. This can put a lot of stress on your car's braking system, leading to premature wear and tear. Try to anticipate traffic and stoplights to avoid hard braking as much as possible.
10. Don't Ignore Any Issues
If you hear any squeaking or grinding noises, or if your brakes vibrate or the brake pedal feels spongy, it’s time to call a professional mechanic. These symptoms should tell you that there’s something wrong with your brakes. Ignoring these issues can lead to costly repairs or, worse, an accident on the road.
As a car owner, maintaining your car is a given. However, this doesn’t only refer to washing your car or upgrading the upholstery but also maintaining the components that can’t be seen but are very crucial for your safety on the road.
The proper maintenance of your car’s braking system is not rocket science. All you have to do is know the common practices that damage your car brakes and the best tips to keep them well maintained.
Regular inspection, changing brake pads regularly, using quality brake pads, checking brake fluid regularly, bleeding the brakes, keeping your rotors clean, avoiding overloading your car, using your brakes correctly, avoiding hard braking, and not ignoring any issues are all essential tips for maintaining your car's braking system.
If you’re looking for professional mechanics to check your brakes, Car Geeks is here to help! Contact us today or schedule an appointment to get started.