Brakes are relatively simple systems but a crucial part of a car. Apart from preventing possible car accidents, properly maintained car brakes increase the longevity and performance of your car. Keeping your car’s brakes in tiptop condition is easy and should not be taken for granted. Even the best brake systems such as coyote swap braking systems require regular maintenance. Here are some brakes maintenance tips that will help you and other road users stay safe on the road.
Check and keep your brake fluid at the recommended levels
Do you know where your car’s brake fluid reservoir is located? The reservoir has clear level marks, and it should be your duty to ensure your reservoir is filled to the correct levels.
Also, ensure you use the right brake fluid. There are several types of brake fluids available in the market, but you should go with the brake fluid recommended by your car manufacturer.
Inspect the brake lines
Lines are a critical part of a braking system. Brake fluid is transmitted from the master cylinder to individual brakes through brake lines. It is important that brake lines do not have any leak. Check any sign of a leak in brake lines regularly.
You should also bleed the lines to remove any air that may be trapped inside. Even small amounts of air inside the brake lines decrease the effectiveness of the braking system.
Change brake fluid
Most people just refill their cars’ brake fluids once the level is low. This is a mistake. Brake fluid is extremely crucial to the braking system of a car. However, brake fluid attracts moisture, which corrodes the metal components of the braking system.
Also, the boiling point of contaminated brake fluid is low, and this affects the effectiveness of the braking system. Replace your brake fluid every two years or after 2,500 miles, whichever comes first.
Check your car’s brake pads and upgrade or replace them if need be
If the components of the braking system could talk, brake pads could be the first ones to complain. They are the most ‘abused’ components of the braking system. Over time they wear thin due to heating during braking.
You can easily observe your car’s brake pads from the outside, but they are hidden from view in some cars. If that is the case with your car, you have to remove the wheels to inspect them. Brake pads should be uniform, whether new or worn out, and they should be at least 5 millimeters thick. Inspect your brake pads regularly and replace them if necessary.
Speed is the enemy
Abrupt braking from high speed is the major cause of brake pad wear. Imagine coming to a full stop from 140 mph; the brakes will dissipate more energy than necessary. This causes premature brake wear. Instead of applying brakes just before a turn, stop sign, or traffic light, you should slow down before the stop instead. Lift your legs off the gas pedal as soon as you see a stop sign, turn or traffic light. It helps to reduce the wear and tear on your brakes.
Do not ‘two-foot’ your pedals
It may seem obvious, but some people tend to tap their brake pad with their left foot while their right foot is on the gas pedal. ‘Two-footing’ is a bad habit which does nothing really to stop a car, but leads to premature brake pads wear.
Observe the three-second rule
The three-second rule helps drivers to keep a safe distance from the car ahead. It eliminates unnecessary braking and possible crashes. The rule is that a driver should keep 3 seconds worth of room between them and the car they are trailing. Watch the vehicle you are following pass a stationary object – a sign, crosswalk, or a building will do. Then count to three. If you pass the same object before 3 seconds elapse, you are too close to it. Back off and leave more space. Apart from driving defensively and keeping a safe distance, the three-second rule is easy on your brakes. Stop-and-go traffic keeps your brakes busy, which reduces brake pad life. Make sure there is enough space between you and the car in front, so you don’t have to apply brakes as often.
Inspect your rotors
Inspect your rotors to see if there is any scoring or cracking. If your rotor is warped, you won’t be able to see any sign of cracking, but you can feel pulsation every time you hit the brake pedal. You should replace the rotors if any of these signs is present.
Brake properly when descending
Overheating is the biggest problem of the braking system. When used continuously, like when driving down a hill, brakes overheat. Their effectiveness reduces drastically after a while. But you can prevent this by using the tap method to keep the brakes cool. Also, you should drive in lower gears when moving downhill. It reduces stress on your car’s brakes and engine and helps you to control speed. This should be done before you start going downhill, as changing gears during a steep downgrade can be dangerous.
Paying attention to road signs and reading situations correctly prevents the need to hit the brakes abruptly. Observation is everything in developing great on-road intuition. For example, you can slow down when you notice a red signal on in the distance, rather than drive fast and slam the brakes and wait for the light to turn green.
Looking after your brakes is the most effective way to maintain their optimum operating performance. Some external factors such as wet weather, unnecessary or late braking, and heavy loads reduce the effectiveness of your braking system. Avoid such situations where you can. Remember, it is not brakes that stop your car; they only stop wheels from rotating. The friction between car wheels and the surface is what stops the car. It is, therefore, important to drive at low speed in wet conditions.