Whether you're a car enthusiast or not, it's incredibly important to keep on top of your vehicle's health and check for any faults you may possibly have, with one of the most important being your brakes. In this blog, we look into how to keep care of your brakes and answer some other crucial questions you may have.
What Are Brakes Made Up Of And How Do They Work?
Brakes are made up of three key things. A brake disc, brake caliper and a brake pad, and are usually made up of materials such as graphite, steel, iron and copper in order to withstand the intense heat caused by the act of breaking itself (created through friction).
How To Take Care Of Your Brakes
Saving money is a great thing but something that some of us aren't particularly good at doing, so shelling out for new car parts can be quite daunting. Replacing brakes, of course, can be expensive, but also if they are at the end of their lifetime or are faulty, they can be actually pretty dangerous. This is because their functionality may not work as well, meaning that braking feels soft and buttery and you may not be able to slam on if there were to be imminent danger. For this reason, it's incredibly important to keep good care of your brakes and check that they are working properly.
What To Do:
Avoid Heavy Braking
Heavy braking isn't good for your brakes at all. Just think of how much friction there has to be to slow the vehicle down when accelerating rapidly and slamming on the brakes as you come towards a junction. If you were to drive according to speed limits and evaluate slowing down over a longer period of time, you will put less stress on the brake pads and therefore slow down the rate of wear and tear; whilst also improving your fuel economy.
Don't Overload Your Vehicle If It Doesn't Need To Be
This may be a factor that many don't tend to think about, but your vehicle being overloaded may actually cause damage to your brakes, due to higher braking temperature.
Use Engine Braking
Engine braking is an alternative way of slowing the vehicle down without having to use your brakes. The way in which you do this is by taking your foot off of the accelerator and shift back down through the gears. It may feel a little clumpy, but it isn't using any pressure on the braking system. It isn't always recommended to do this though as some experts believe that doing so can damage the engine.
Check Brake Fluid Regularly
When we say you should check brake fluid regularly, we mean during regular maintenance checks in general. Look out for leaks or contamination and look to get it resolved as soon as you possibly can.
Look For Warning Lights
If you receive any warning light, in general, you should always go and have the problem checked.
Invest In Higher Quality In The First Place
Investing in high-quality brakes to start with is always a good thing to do if you want longer-lasting parts.
How Long Should Brake Discs Last?
According to the RAC, "a set of brake pads can last from anywhere between 25,000 and 60,000 miles" which would mean that for some drivers they may have to be replaced every 2 years and for most drivers 3 or 4 years.
What Causes Brakes To Wear Out Quickly?
The wear and tear of your brake discs can be dependant upon many different factors. Factors such as average distance travelled on a day-to-day basis, how much weight you generally carry, your driving style and the quality of the materials used.
Can Your Brakes Catch Fire?
Yes, they can. Although the materials used for making the breaks are supposedly able to withstand intense heat from braking, it doesn't go to say that they will never catch on fire. The brakes can set on fire due to the brake caliper fluid boiling, which may then cause bellowing smoke. Another reason may be due to intense amounts of friction being placed on the brakes from incredibly harsh breaking or brakes losing their function due to wear.
How Can You Tell If You Have Inner Or Outer Brakes?
Inner brakes are a reference to an inboard braking system where the discs are mounted on the chassis of the vehicle as opposed to being on the wheel itself.
Outer brakes are a reference to outboard brakes meaning that the brake is attached to the outer end of the axle.
How Do You Know If Your Brakes Are Overheating Or Need Replacing?
Noise, smell and feel are the main three senses we use on a day to day basis to detect problems and are the senses that you would also use to detect your brakes overheating. Without being able to visually see the brakes overheating, you may think it's difficult to gauge whether they are hot or not.
However, some ways in which you may be able to work out whether your brakes are getting too hot or if you need to get new ones is if you can see smoke starting to appear, brakes feeling soft and buttery on your feet and a squealing noise from the brakes themselves. You may also see the brake light come on the dashboard, eluding to the problem that it needs to be solved.