When it comes to preventive maintenance and car care, we all know how important it is to check our brakes. But brakes are more than just brake pads and shoes. There are a lot of components in the brake system, and they all need to be in good working order.
The pads, shoes and drums are known as the friction materials in the brake system. They push together, providing friction, which stops the vehicle. It’s no wonder they have to be checked regularly for wear, and that brake pads need to be replaced periodically.
Brake pads gradually wear out, but that doesn’t mean your braking gradually becomes less effective. The pads are engineered so that they maintain good braking until they wear too thin to provide adequate friction. At this point, they need to be replaced.
But your braking system also has mechanical parts. These pistons and springs can also gradually wear out or get gummed up by oil, dirt and other road spatter. A good brake inspection should include a check of these parts as well as the pads and shoes. Your technician can then advise you of any parts that need cleaning or replacement.
The fluid component to the brake system needs a regular check-up as well. Brake fluid cleans and lubricates your brake system. This fluid is gradually depleted by the operation of the brake system, and moisture build-up inside the fluid can diminish its effectiveness. When you have your brakes serviced, the fluid should be checked and, if needed, flushed, which will clean out water, debris and dirt. Then the system should be refilled with clean brake fluid.
Your brake system also includes your tires. No matter how well your brake system is performing, if your tires are worn, you won't get good stopping power. Traction is the gripping power of your tires to the roadway. Traction is always better on tires with a good tread. Good traction translates to good braking.
This is particularly important on wet roads. A good tire will give you good braking on either wet roads or dry. But stopping distance increases dramatically when worn tires meet wet roads. Tread on a tire acts to channel water as the vehicle passes over the wet road, thus maintaining contact between the tire’s surface and the road, which maintains traction. But the thinner the tread, the less effective the water channels become, and water can get between the tire and the roadway, reducing friction. A loss of friction means a longer stopping distance.
Good braking depends on two things: the weight of a vehicle and the speed of the vehicle. The heavier the vehicle or the faster the vehicle, the more braking power it requires. Thus, brake systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a pickup that is designed for heavy loads has a more powerful braking system than a compact car. Race cars and sports cars also have higher-grade braking systems than minivans.
Regardless of what kind of car you drive, it is always good auto advice to keep your brake system in good repair, and that means ALL of your brake system. Just one more way to keep your travels accident and worry-free.