Do you think you may have a problem with your brakes?
Many drivers assume that when they need their brakes, they will always be there for them. On today's congested roads, stop/start driving places huge demands on brakes, so as with any other moving part on your car, it's no surprise that wear and tear causes them to deteriorate over time.
Because this wear on brakes happens so gradually, many people don't notice damage until it’s too late.
The braking system is essentially the most important element of your car but much like tyres; brakes become much less effective the more they wear.
If ignored, brake deterioration can become incredibly dangerous - especially on powerful and high-performance cars.
So, for safety and peace of mind it makes sense to have your brakes checked regularly.
There are different types of braking systems used on most models of car.
Disc brake: The disc brake can be seen if you peer through the hub cap of your car. When you step on the brake pedal, a pad clamps onto the brake disc and rubs it to make it slow down. Some cars have disc brakes on all four wheels, but many have drum brakes on the back wheels, which work in a slightly different way.
Drum Brake: Instead of the disc and brake block, a drum brake has shoes inside the hollow wheel hub that press outwards. As the shoes push into the wheel, friction slows down the vehicle down.
Handbrake: The handbrake applies the two rear brakes, which ever kind they may be, in a slower, less forceful way. The handbrake lever sets the brakes to the functioning position and is usually used when the vehicle is stationary.
Brakes are made of very hardwearing materials that don’t melt won't melt, such as alloys, ceramics, or composites. A moving car generates a lot of energy. When brakes are applied, virtually all of this energy is converted into heat in the brake pads. The brakes can heat to temperatures of 500°C!
Brake failure & brake wear
When you use your brakes to stop, the pedal forces hydraulic pressure into the cylinder of the braking system.
The pressure and energy that is generated, flows through the brake hoses to the wheel cylinders and calipers – the brakes are then forced into functioning position. As a car is forced to slow down as a result of braking, most of the load is transferred to the front of the car. This means that the front brakes actually do most of the work and are therefore more susceptible to wear and failure.
Disc Wear: As the front brakes are exposed to much more intensive force than the rear, front discs commonly wear thin. Brake discs have a minimum thickness in which they must comply, in line with manufacturer safety standards. When brake discs reach the minimum thickness they should be replaced in pairs.
Pad Wear: How fast your brake pads wear is determined by the type of vehicle you drive and your driving style. Low speed braking doesn’t affect the pads too much but high speed braking does.
Brake Fluid: Brake fluid is an essential part of the hydraulic system which makes brakes work in the first place. The fluid is hygroscopic. This means it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Heavy braking causes the brake system to get incredibly hot as a result of all the heat energy. It can get so hot that brake fluid can boil and vaporise. Hydraulic brakes work on the principle that a liquid cannot be compressed. If the brake fluid is old or low then there is more of a chance of it becoming vaporised, which means it can then be compressed. If this happens, you’ll find your brakes will feel spongy and full braking performance will be lost.
Brake fluid should be replaced every 2 years as a safety precaution.
Symptoms of Brake Failure
You might notice some of the following symptoms which can indicate brake problems:
- A grinding noise when braking could mean excessive wear on the pads and discs.
- Pulling to one side when braking usually means a sticking or seized mechanical or hydraulic component.
- If the pedal feels spongy there could be air in the hydraulic system due to a brake fluid leak.
- A pulsating pedal could mean a distorted brake disc or drum.
If you have noticed any of the above or if you've any other concerns with your brakes simply pop into one of our centres where our brake specialists will be more than happy to carry out a comprehensive free of charge inspection.
Don't wait till it's too late! All our new brakes fitted carry a 12 month guarantee so to get a competitive quote on car brakes click here for your nearest HiQ Easy Tyre & Autocentres branch.