The Importance of Healthy Brakes

Simply, the brakes on our car are there to slow the vehicle down, allowing us to stop safely. In urgent situations, brakes can halt a vehicle abruptly, avoiding collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists or in any other unforeseen situation.

Brakes are there to keep us safe.

Take care of your brakes and they will take care of you.

To help you get the most out of your brakes and ensure they stay in ship shape condition to keep you as safe as possible at all times, here are a few top tips!

WHAT ARE BRAKE PADS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Brake pads provide the friction to slow down or to stop your car.  Brake pads are a major part of the braking system.  They are the component that contacts and applies pressure and friction to your cars brake rotors –  these are those flat, shiny discs that you can sometimes see just behind the wheels of some vehicles. It is the pressure and friction that is applied to the brake rotors which slows and subsequently stops the wheels of the car. Once the wheels stop turning, obviously the vehicle also stops moving.

HOW LONG DO BRAKE PADS LAST?

There is no definitive answer to the question, but they can last anywhere between 25,000 and 60,000 miles possibly even more

There are several factors that will determine how long they last, by how you drive your car and where

WHERE? If you do a lot of your driving on the motorway, you may discover that your brake pads last longer than if you do more driving around towns and cities or just on shorter journeys.

On shorter journeys, you are much more likely to be stopping and starting, for example at zebra crossings, traffic lights, roundabouts and junctions, therefore using the brakes more frequently than you would if you were coasting along on a motorway as you wouldn’t use them as often

HOW? Another factor that can determine how quickly your brake pads wear down is weight.  This is the weight that the vehicle maybe carrying, for example how many people are in the vehicle, if you have a fully loaded boot, or you are towing a trailer or caravan as an example. A fully loaded vehicle is clearly heavier and therefore stopping it will put more strain on the brake pads as they try to slow the vehicle down.

When the vehicle is lighter it is easier to slow down and stop with less braking effort required.

TYPE. The type of pads you have in your vehicle can affect how long your brake pads will last. In general there are four types, some more popular than others. These are ceramic,  low metallic, semi metallic and organic.

Ceramic: These brake pads last longer than brake pads produced out of other materials and they are more resistant to wear. Unfortunately these are also more expensive than the others

Low metallic: These brake pads have a slightly longer life expectancy than organic pads, but the downside is they can be noisy. Semi metallic brake pads have a longer life expectancy

Organic car brake pads are generally the cheapest and won’t last very long….

MILES? Simply put, the more miles you drive, the more often you use your brakes and therefore the faster your brake pads will wear out! However, it is usual for the front brake pads to wear out faster than those at the rear of your car as the front of the car usually handles more of the braking load.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN THEY NEED REPLACING?  Depending upon the age of your vehicle, some are fitted with wear sensors on the front and rear.  These will trigger an alert message on your front dash warning you when your brake pads are getting critically low. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with sensors, then it is advisable to have them inspected at regular intervals .  A vehicle service will assess the condition of your brake pads but at other times, its good practice to look and listen out for any for possible issues

If you can hear a loud screeching noise when are braking, this is a firm warning sign that new brake pads are needed, or at least require an urgent inspection.

If you hear a grinding noise, then its more than likely that the brake pads have been worn down completely. If you experience this, you should not drive the vehicle and arrange for the brakes to be checked and replaced urgently.

Another indication that there is possibly a brake fault with your vehicle is if you can feel your car pulling to one side or the other whilst you are braking. Uneven pad wear will be caused by an imbalance in the braking efficiency, which needs to be checked and rectified.

Vibrations is another sign that all may not be well with your braking system.  If the brake pedal vibrates when you push your foot down, the brake pads could be warped due to a build up of excessive heat. There may also be excessive wear or damage to the brake discs.

Visual inspections can also be an aid to help you manage the health of your brakes. On some vehicles you may be able to look at the brake pads for any wear and tear. Depending upon the make/model of the vehicle,  you may be able to see the outer pad by looking through the spokes of the wheel. The outer pad will be pressed against the brake disc.  There should be at least 3 mm of the pad visible. If you see anything less, it is advisable to get the brake pads checked.

Nov 22, 2018

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