Many of us don’t pay much attention to our car’s brakes until we hear a weird screeching or grinding noise coming from them, increased stopping distance, or vibration when the brakes are applied. But waiting until one of those things happens can be expensive or even dangerous.
The downsides of putting off brake maintenance
When you delay giving your brakes the care and maintenance they need, it can lead to higher repair costs, greater overall damage to your vehicle and risk of injury to yourself and others.
One easy way to stay ahead of the game is to regularly check your brake pads or brake shoes. Brake pads or shoes are used each time you apply your brakes, which causes them to gradually wear down over time. When they wear past a minimum safe level, excessive pressure is applied directly to the brake rotors. This can damage your rotors, which are much more expensive to replace than pads or shoes.
Delaying brake maintenance can also damage your calipers. Brake calipers are the metal plates that hold the brake pads and press them against the rotor. The cost of replacing your calipers depends on the vehicle you drive, but are also more expensive than pads or shoes.
And in a worst-case scenario, brakes that are compromised can make it difficult to stop your car in time to avoid an accident. Needless to say, this is dangerous for you, other drivers and pedestrians.
In short, think about your brakes before it's too late!
Caring for your Brakes
Get in the habit of including brakes in your car maintenance routine. (And if you don’t have a routine, start one!) Here are some easy ways to get started:
Inspect your brakes and brake pads. Have your brakes and brake pads inspected at least once every 10,000 miles, or whenever you have your oil changed or tire rotated.
Check your brake fluid regularly. If your brake fluid is dark, it means the fluid needs to be replaced. If the brake fluid falls below the minimum fill level, it means the brakes are low or there is an issue with the system and needs an inspection soon.
Pay attention to your dashboard. If the brake warning light is illuminated, make sure to have your brakes inspected by a trained professional right away.
Listen to your brakes. If your brakes are making a grinding or squealing sound, it may be a warning sign to get them inspected. The same is true if your car vibrates when you apply the brakes.
Drive conservatively. Try not to follow cars too closely and try to coast before using your brakes whenever you can do so safely. And as a bi-product, you will conserve fuel consumption!
Brake Pads: Pair of steel backing plates lined with a friction material that press on the brake rotor or the inside of the brake drum.
Brake Shoes: Positioned inside the brake drum and are attached to the backing plate.
Rotors: Metal disc that’s attached to a hub that is held in place on the inside of the wheel.
Calipers: The apparatus that applies force to the brake pads allowing controlled pressure to the surface of the brake rotor to slow or stop the vehicle.
Brake Fluid: Type of hydraulic fluid that is used to transfer force into pressure, and to amplify braking force.
Master Cylinder: Receptacle that the brake fluid in your car and distributes brake fluid to the brake system.
Brake Lines: Flexible hoses and metal lines that are fitted to a hydraulic brake system.