Just imagining a scenario of putting on your brakes and having them not respond makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end…
We all know how important our car’s brakes are, but do we all know how much stress our brakes are under while we are on the road? Think about it- we use our brakes so often our foot barely leaves the pedal! Slowing down, avoiding obstacles, responding to an emergency situation or waiting at the robots- all of these activities equate to stress on our brakes.
Car brakes are the single most important safety device we have while driving and so it makes perfect sense to treat them with the respect they deserve. We are so reliant on them working when we need them to that getting them checked every six months by a professional is not only good for our cars- it’s a must!
Getting a grip on your car’s braking systems does not need to be intimidating. A little know-how can go a long way. Simply put: your car’s brakes decelerate your speed. Good brakes take you from moving to still within the shortest possible distance- at whatever speed you’re travelling. Bad brakes don’t- and that’s when you and your family can be in danger.
Modern cars either use disk brakes on all four wheels or a combination of disk brakes in the front and drum brakes on the rear wheels. Even though drum brakes are seen as dated technology when compared with disk brakes, they’re used in the back because they are only responsible for about 20-30% of the stopping power needed. That’s comforting considering that drum brakes are known to be serial over-heaters, losing effectiveness when under severe stress like when you’re travelling downhill with heavy cargo. Car manufacturers still like to use them though, even if they’re less safe, because they’re cheaper to manufacture.
Disk brakes are far more efficient. They use the same principal to slow down your car (heat and friction) but because of their superior design, they’re less likely to overheat. Disk brakes also work better than drum brakes in wet weather; they’re able to remain drier while drum brakes often collect water on the inside where the brake shoes contact the drum.
Brake Failure Warning Signs:
When your brakes are not functioning effectively, you’re at risk. You could slide or skid out without notice, so it’s important to know what telltale signs to look and listen for to make sure your brakes aren’t on the brink of failure.
The obvious signs are that the ABS light on your dashboard has turned on or your brake pedal is unresponsive. Other times it will be more subtle- like a soft clicking noise when pressing the brakes. Drum brakes often fail after excessive use. Signs of drum brake issues include scraping noises, handbrake failure and an unusual feeling in the brake pedal. Disk brakes can make squealing and grinding noises. These sounds are usually a sign of worn or glazed brake pads. Hearing this noise means that your brakes are close to failing and that you should have your brakes checked and replaced immediately.
Caring For Your brakes:
As mentioned, if you notice any of the above warning signs then you should have your brakes checked immediately- alongside having them routinely checked by a professional every 6 months. However, there are some ways you can care for your brakes and preserve their life so you will hopefully never need an emergency trip to the mechanic!
1. Carry less
The greater the weight your car is pulling the more effort it takes for your brakes to slow or stop your car. If possible, keep your load light. Bonus: Lightening your load will keep your fuel costs down too!
2. Pay Attention
Keeping sharp attention to what’s happening ahead of you can help reduce the wear on your brakes. If you have to slam on your brakes every 50 meters, your brakes will wear quickly. However, if you are conscious of obstacles, traffic jams and robots because you have paid good attention to the roads, you can lightly press your brake pedal in advance – causing your brakes less stress and strain and adding to their longevity.
3. Invest in Quality
It’s that old saying – spend a penny, save a dollar! If you pay for the best quality brake system you can find, you’ll be glad of it in the long run. We know the temptation of taking a bargain over forking out, but when it comes to brakes and your safety, it’s always worth paying more. And of course, better quality products last longer, so you’ll save having to replace your brakes in the long run!
Get Your Brakes Checked By An Expert:
Ultimately, because your brakes are such an essential safety feature, it’s important that you keep them in good working condition. Any unusual behaviour coming from your car when you apply your brakes should be looked at immediately. You don’t want to have to fork out for having knocked into someone because of faulty brakes! For professional advice on brakes and brake replacements contact your nearest e-CAR workshop, where our team of qualified mechanics and trained technicians will help you with your braking queries and needs.
You can trust us: at e-CAR we only use premium braking products sourced from the leading parts manufacturers in the country.
Find your closest e-CAR workshop by clicking here.