Functioning brakes are an incredibly important part of your safety while driving. We use them every day for stop signs, red lights, when someone pulls in front of you, and in traffic. If your brakes don’t work correctly just once it can cause dire consequences for you and others on the road.
Small brake problems can be simple to fix, but if left unattended for too long they can become much more severe issues. This is why it’s important to make sure that your brakes stay in good shape using the tips below, and to have maintenance performed on the brake system when necessary.
How Your Car’s Brakes Work
Brakes work to stop your vehicle whenever you need by using discs (called rotors), calipers, and brake pads. You push on a brake pedal to stop your vehicle and the car itself sends out signals that help it come to a stop.
Pushing the brake pedal causes a piston to be pushed into your master cylinder. Your master cylinder is filled with hydraulic fluid. When the piston is pushed into it, that hydraulic fluid is sent through your brake lines to other cylinders near each wheel.
The force of your foot on the pedal is multiplied by the hydraulics enough to brake and stop your vehicle. Depending on your vehicle, your braking system may use disc or drum brakes. If you need to know what type you have and aren’t sure, you can always ask a mechanic.
One of the components of vehicle brakes that wears out most regularly is the brake pads. When brake pads get worn down too much they don’t function as well. You can usually tell if the time to have your brake pads changed is nearing. Your brakes will start to squeak when you stop, or may feel like they are sticking.
DIY brake pad repair is possible, but taking your vehicle to a trained mechanic is highly recommended. Incorrectly installed brake pads can cause damage to the calipers and rotors in your brake system. Replacing a caliper can cost as much as three times what it costs to have brake pads repaired.
A mechanic at a local auto repair shop will be able to make the repair quickly and reliably, so you don’t have to worry about whether your repair job will last. Expert mechanics will also notice if there’s something else wrong with your system that you may not catch yourself.
Pay Attention to Driving Habits
Brake pads wearing down is just a natural part of using your vehicle. However, there are steps you can take to keep from speeding up the process. These steps start with your driving habits.
When driving, be aware of anything that may cause you to have to stop. If you approach a stop sign or red light, slowly apply the brake pedal well in advance so you can safely stop without having to slam on your brakes.
When in traffic, be mindful of drivers around you. If someone signals they’re merging into your lane, give them plenty of room with a light application of the brakes rather than having to brake harder if you end up too close to them.
Being mindful of your braking habits can help prevent early and unnecessary damage to your brakes.
Get a Brake Check
As mentioned previously, no matter how careful you are brake pads do wear down over time. Having them replaced should become part of your vehicle maintenance, just like changing your oil, though luckily not as often.
While oil changes are usually recommended every three months or three thousand miles, most brake pads last far longer. Depending on your vehicle and the amount of driving you do, some brake pads can be expected to last between 25,000-70,000 miles.
No matter how many miles they’ve been used for, if your brakes start showing signs of dysfunction, it’s important to have them checked immediately. If you need your brakes checked, visit Reliable Automotive, an auto repair shop with locations in Kyle, San Marcos, and Buda, TX for a free brake check today.