You’ve been keeping your tires in top shape, doing everything to keep your car ready for the winter, and have been following a set schedule to keep the rest of your vehicle in top shape. But you’re left wondering, what should I do about my brakes? In this week’s article we’ll be taking a dive into the actions you can take and what you need to look out for, to get the most of out of your vehicle’s brakes for its entire lifetime.
Quite a bit of components make up a properly functioning. We’ll detail these components below:
Master Brake Cylinder – This takes the signal from when you press down on your brake pedal, from there it transfers the pressure to each wheel through your calipers or drum assembly.
Brake Fluid Reservoir – This connects to the above master brake cylinder, it stores your vehicle’s brake fluid and protects it to help keep your hydraulic braking system working properly. Make sure you keep an eye on the fluid level, having your mechanic add brake fluid after brake changes, or when you need to top it off.
Brake Lines – Your brake lines are where the brake fluid, from the brake fluid reservoir near the master brake cylinder, flows through to each of your wheels.
Brake Rotors – Located behind each wheel on your vehicle, your brake rotors are spinning discs that are compressed by your brake pads for stopping power.
Brake Pads – Each wheel on your vehicle has two pads per break rotor, with some vehicles having more depending on the make of the car, BMW being an example. The pads press against your brake rotors when your brake pedal is pressed.
Calipers – These are located around the rotor, they’re responsible for moving the brake pads to press against the rotor. They’re moved by an interior piston.
Drum Brake Assembly – These are usually located on the rear wheels for most cars, they use brake shoes that move outward towards the inner surface of the drum, the friction generated from this contact enables the wheels to slow and/or stop.
Brake Maintenance Basics:
We’ve identified the crucial components in your vehicle’s braking system. Now, what would you be able to do to ensure you get the most out of them?
For one, you can make sure your brake fluid reservoir full, when it’s low your master brake cylinder will encounter excess strain when you go to stop or slow down, and left unchecked this strain will be passed on to the other braking components like your pads, rotors, and drums, if you have them.
Next, make sure you have regular inspections done on your braking system. You’ll want them to look for uneven wear on your brake pads, pits or scratches on the rotor, and rust on the calipers.
As always, make sure to listen to your vehicle when it says it’s in need of service. Vehicles all the way through compact sedans, SUVs, and trucks come equipped with a litany of lights on the dash that will warn you when attention is needed for specific systems/components in your car. You may see a brake light, now in some vehicles this is for the emergency brake being activated, if it’s not displaying for your emergency brake, make sure to bring in your vehicle to have your mechanic look at your brakes.
In addition to keeping an eye out for warning lights, you should also keep your vehicle on a regular service schedule, which we discussed in a previous article. If not following the guidelines in your owner’s manual, it’s a good rule of thumb to have your brakes looked at every third oil change, or every 10,000 miles.
What to Look Out For:
Now that winter has passed, many of us breathe a sigh of relief for better driving conditions in the warm months ahead. However, it’s still necessary to be aware of your regular route, and keep an eye out for every day conditions that may be negatively affecting your vehicle’s performance. When driving, avoid excessive and sudden stopping. This will put increased wear on your pads and rotors. You’ll lose more material than regular stopping, and use up more brake pad when you’re driving too fast with abrupt braking. Even with stopping regularly, you’ll use more material from the brake pads the more you stop, if you can find a route that takes less frequent stopping during your daily commute, its best to try.
We’ve talked about what driving habits you should avoid, and planning out your route to avoid frequent stops, these are both actions we can normally control. But what about what we can’t? Look out for highways/roads with many pot holes, gravel back roads, and be especially mindful during the winter. Small pebbles and salt accumulation will shorten your brake system’s life considerably, you can counteract this with more frequent maintenance and check-ins with your mechanic to get the most out of your brakes when frequently encountering these conditions.
Overall regular checkups, better driving habits and a greater awareness of our regular driving conditions and routes you take every day will put you and every driver in a better position to maximize the life and performance of their brakes for the lifetime of their car. Noticed a hesitation when you step on the brake pedal? Been a while since your last checkup? Brakes nearing the end of their life? Our team of professional service advisors and mechanics are ready to help you get the most of your vehicle, whether its brake jobs, oil changes, or any repair/maintenance big or small.
Give our team a call at 781-575-0130 or book your appointment online here. Thank you for reading and remember to check in next week for our next article!
The article above is a collection of information gathered from multiple sources on the components and maintenance of braking systems. The information above is meant to act as an introduction to best practices, and is not meant to be the sole resource used when maintaining your vehicle’s braking system. Consumers should pursue a variety of sources both online and safely in person with a certified mechanic when maintaining their vehicle. North End Motors Inc. is not to be held liable should the above information be used in any way other than for what it is intended to be, a short introduction to proper vehicle maintenance.