One can’t stress enough the importance of having working brakes in driving. In a study of car crashes between 2005 and 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered that brake-related problems accounted for one in five of such accidents. If not brake failure, the failure to brake hard enough is as much of a problem (Source). This is what brake maintenance vital!
When bringing the car into the shop or doing the maintenance yourself, brakes should at least be high up on a car owner’s to-do list. A working brake system can mean the difference between a smooth drive and a fender bender, if not injuries and whatnot. Perhaps other parts of the car can wait, but brake maintenance is a must-do, no matter what.
Regardless of who’ll work on keeping your car’s standard or performance brake kits working, it pays to know a few crucial things. Follow these tips to have lifesaving stopping power wherever you decide to drive:
4 must do’s Brake maintenance tips –
1. Follow the prescribed maintenance schedule
Just as the owner has a regular appointment with the doctor, their car also has a timetable for inspection. Such a schedule depends on several factors like the car make and model, driving habits and frequency, and parts installed. Fortunately, the manual contains everything the car owner needs to know on the subject and more.
Concerning brake systems, the rule of thumb says a thorough inspection is recommended every 5,000 miles. Mileage before replacement varies among the system’s components. Here are the maintenance schedules suggested by TheDrive for your brake’s parts, whether standard or performance brake kits:
- Brake pads – Every between 25,000 and 65,000 miles
- Brake rotors – Every between 40,000 and 70,000 miles
- Brake fluid – Every between 20,000 and 50,000 miles
Even if the car hasn’t reached the prescribed mileage, brakes should undergo inspection at least every six months. Sitting on the garage or driveway unused for months has a way of taking its toll on crucial car parts.
Even performance brake kits, designed for racing and more intense driving sports, stick to these mileages. The more drivers step on the brakes, especially when performing stunts like drifting, the more wear and tear accumulates. Whether or not they’re due for replacement, avoid skipping brake checks when the time comes.
2. Know the essential elements of your brake system
The pads, rotors, and fluid aren’t the only ones worth keeping a close eye on; they’re just the most visible. The brake system, despite differing among makes and models, also extends to the following components:
Master brake cylinder – Responsible for producing enough hydraulic pressure to get the wheel cylinder to press the brake pads.
Brake booster – This part increases the force applied on the brake pedal using engine vacuum and pressure.
Emergency/parking brake – Used when the car’s parked and works separately from the primary brake system to prevent a car from moving on its own.
ABS control module – Used to determine the ideal pressure to apply to each wheel to prevent them from locking, found on models with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).
Wheel speed sensor – Checks the speed of each wheel and sends the data to the ABS control module, which adjusts the entire system accordingly.
3. Carried anything heavy?
Now this one can save you some fortune too. Did you recently carry anything heavy?
While performing maintenance, one should ask themselves if they’ve carried anything heavy before but not to the point of overloading. Weight has a significant bearing on the manner of braking; more cargo means more braking power required.
Stopping distance is directly proportional with the weight and the square of the speed. If a car has recently carried twice its maximum load at twice the normal cruising speed, its brakes have to provide eight times as much power to stop. That entails an unreasonable amount of stress on the braking system, probably resulting in replacing most of the components.
Car owners that regularly ferry heavy loads or towing trailers should consider a more thorough maintenance routine for their cars’ standard or high-performance brake kits. The wear and tear the parts have accumulated over shorter periods can warrant replacement! Now that’s a pro-tip, isn’t it? 😎
4. Keep brake fluid topped up
As a hydraulic mechanism, the braking system requires fluid to work, particularly brake fluid. Experts believe brake fluid to be the most critical of all car fluids yet the most ignored. Without enough of this stuff running along the brake lines, the whole system becomes unresponsive. Even performance brake kits can’t work without this fluid.
However, topping up is just half the story. The type of brake fluid must be suitable for the job. Regular vehicles can work with DOT 3 brake fluid, while high-performance cars need DOT 4. Mixing brake fluids is ill-advised, even if DOT 3 and DOT 4 are compatible.
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Overall, never attempt to hit the road without a way to stop. Conduct regular maintenance on your car’s brakes, replacing them with performance brake kits if necessary, on top of using them responsibly on the road.