Things You Didn’t Know About Your Brakes

Brakes are one of the most important components of your car as your safety quite literally depends on them. It’s important to remember that car brakes don’t last forever and they should be properly checked and replaced by trained professionals.

Not maintaining your brakes can lead to permanent damage to your car or situations endangering you, your family and other road users. While it may be a worst case scenario but if your brakes totally fail, the consequences are often tragic and deadly.

It is often difficult to determine when you need to service or replace car brakes especially in older cars but it is vital that you do. Here is some expert advice on how brakes work, how they get worn and when to replace them.

How Do Car Brakes Work?

While some trucks and cars have rear drum brakes, most modern today have disc brakes on all four wheels. Brake pads are installed on both sides of the brake disc which enables drivers to stop when pressing the pedal. The hydraulic pressure ensures that the two brake pads squeeze the brake disc between them which results in braking.

Signs That Brakes Need Attention

Brake pads usually need to be replaced after approximately 50,000 miles but some as early as 25,000 miles. Depending on how you drive and the type of brake pad fitted, others can last for up 70,000 miles. We always recommend checking your owner’s manual for a more accurate number based on your car’s specific requirements. Some of the most common warning signs that your brake pads are wearing out include the following:

Screeching or grinding noise when applying the brake

When this happens, your brake pads are worn out and exposes an indicator shim built into the pad. It works like an early warning system so it’s best to replace them immediately to avoid damaging your brake rotors.

Poor braking performance

Poor brake responsiveness is often the result of an air leak in the brake hose or leaking brake fluid. The brake pedal can feel soft and spongy and don’t respond as expected when applying the brake. This can cause major problems, especially at high speeds so get it checked immediately.

Shuddering when braking

Also referred to as jittery brakes and a potential sign that the brake discs are warped. While in some cases you can grind or clean the surface to flatten it again but it’s often cheaper, safer and easier to simply replace it.

Pulling to one side when braking

When your car pulls to one side when applying the brake, there are possible explanations. It could be misaligned tyres or foreign material in the brake fluid.

The other possibility of debris in the brake fluid can compromise the braking pressure and cause uneven braking. If your car only pulls when braking but not always while driving, your hydraulic system could contain some sort of debris. In both cases it’s best to have it checked it out rather sooner than later.

Car vibrates when applying brakes

If your car vibrates excessively when applying the brakes, your discs are more than likely warped. This happens due to extended periods of uninterrupted braking where the heat causes the rotors to wear unevenly against the brake pad. This can ultimately warp them permanently and the vibration you feel is caused by the brake pads making uneven contact with the rotors. When this happens, your braking ability is reduced and you should visit your nearest service centre immediately.

What Causes Brakes To Wear?

As we’ve established, brakes wear out over time regardless of how you drive or the type of car brakes you installed. However, knowing what causes brakes to wear will help you understand how it all works.

Driving habits

Driving habits play a vital role in fuel economy, tyre wear and also how long car brakes last. Some drivers ride the brakes and push it to the limits while others apply gentle pressure. Except when performing emergency stops, braking smoothly and gradually will increase the lifespan of pads and discs.

Environmental impact

Our environment makes a big impact on our vehicles due to congested roads and traffic lights. City driving affects brakes more than in the country or on long straight roads because you don’t have to brake too often. The same applies in mountainous areas with steep elevation changes. Brakes can wear out quickly as drivers need to brake frequently to control their speed going downhill.

The hardness of brake pads

There are several types of brake pads made from different compounds to suit various driving needs. While hard compound brake pads last longer, they usually only perform well once warmed up which is why these are commonly fitted to performance cars. On the other hand, soft compound brake pads perform better at low speeds and make them ideal for urban driving.

Type of materials

Brake discs and brake pads are made from different types of material and can also affect durability. Carbon-ceramic brakes generally last longer than standard metal brakes but need to be warm before they are really effective. In addition, carbon-ceramic brakes are expensive and mostly fitted on high-performance sports cars. Steel or other metal brakes are the preferred choice for many and still more than adequate to suit most driving conditions.

Free Visual Brake Inspection At Elite Garages

If you suspect that your brakes are faulty in any way get it checked right away. At Elite Garages, you can book a FREE visual brake inspection where our expert technicians will take care of everything and give you the necessary peace of mind.

Elite Garages provide dealership quality services with greater value and no hidden costs. We perform all types of car maintenance from servicing all makes and models, tyres, batteries, MOT’s and more. If you’re ever in doubt about our commitment to you, remember the ‘Elite Price Promise’.

“If you find a genuine printed cheaper price for the same product which is in stock we will meet or beat this price at time of purchase.”

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