The brakes are one of the most sensitive parts of an automobile. To prevent serious issues and costly repairs in the future, you need to know some basic tips to keep them in excellent working condition.
The number one enemy of good braking is no other than heat, which is generated in huge amounts as the brake pads press against the brake discs. In order to eliminate this heat, particularly from the heavily loaded front brakes, the disc is typically ventilated with internal vanes that pull cooling air from the center of the disc to the outer edges. By simply pumping hot air away from the discs, the brakes remain cooler and become less prone to fading.
Fading is caused by overheated and overused brakes. The worst-case scenario is when the brake fluid boils in the calipers, resulting in a loss of braking ability. The following can result from faded brakes:
- The brakes give off a burning odor.
- The distances it takes to stop dramatically increase.
- The pedal depresses farther, closer to the floor.
- In extreme cases, the brakes can smoke or catch on fire. When this happens, pull over and let your brakes cool.
If you are planning to buy new brake pads, make sure that they meet various requirements and safety standards, including low-dust production; low noise and squeal; and excellent performance even when wet.
Chemically, brake fluids are hydroscopic, which means they attract moisture. This is bad for a number of reasons:
- Boiling brake fluid can result in brake fade when driving down long mountain roads, particularly with a heavy load or while towing a trailer.
- Moisture in the brake fluid decreases its boiling point, which makes it easier for the fluid to boil under heavy braking.
- In addition, moisture corrodes metal components within the braking system, potentially causing an eventual failure.
The good news is that the solution is easy. See to it that brake fluid is changed on the service interval recommended by your car manufacturer, or about every two years or so.
A well-maintained car has excellent braking capability. If you are fond of taking your car to the track, the good thing is that there are larger brake discs and uprated brake pads available in the market. Just remember that what is good and compatible for a high-temperature environment may not be ideal for that cold and rainy drive from work.
It just takes the right choices and regular brake fluid change to ensure optimal performance. When was the last time you took your car to a service center? If you can’t remember anymore, you better hurry now because you never know when your brakes will take a toll on your drive.