Your car’s brakes are an essential safety feature, and it’s important to keep them in good condition by performing car brake maintenance.
In this blog post, we will discuss five tips that will help you keep your car’s brakes functioning correctly and keep you safe on the road.
Check Your Brake Fluid Level
Clean Brake Dust Off With A Clean Rag
Inspect Your Brake Lines For Cracks Or Corrosion
Change Your Brake Pads Every Six Months or 20,000 Kilometres
Replace Your Brake Rotors Every 100,000 Kilometres
1. Check Your Brake Fluid Level
Brake fluid is what makes your brakes work. If the level is low, it can cause your brakes to fail. Checking your brake fluid at least once a month will ensure safe braking.
If your car runs on the road with low brake fluid, air enters the system and leads to spongy brakes. Also, when the fluid level is low, your brake pedal will feel stiff when you press it.
You can avoid this by doing the following steps:
Stop the engine and turn off the ignition
If you feel your brake pads are more rigid than usual when pressed, it could indicate low brake fluid levels. Never run your car with low brake fluid, as it can cause your brakes to fail.
Make sure your car is on an even surface
When your car rests on an uneven surface, the amount of fluid you pour is inaccurate. It can cause your brake system to have too much or too little liquid. Parking on a flat surface helps prevent an uneven pour.
Open the bonnet and check the brake fluid reservoir
Locate the brake fluid reservoir. It’s usually a clear plastic container with a lid near the back of the engine on the driver’s side of the car. Some automobiles use a master cylinder made of metal to store brake fluid.
Only use the recommended type of brake fluid
Different types of brake fluids have other boiling points. The boiling point is the temperature at which the liquid turns into vapour. When the brake fluid boils, it can cause your brakes to fail.
We can classify different brake fluids by their boiling points. The three most common types are DOT3, DOT4 and DOT5.
- DOT3 fluids are glycol-based brake fluids. They have the lowest boiling point and are the most common brake fluid for on-road cars.
- DOT4 fluids are also glycol-based brake fluids. They have a higher boiling point than DOT3 fluids. If your brakes see heavy use, or if you do motorsports, DOT4 is beneficial. However, always check your owner’s manual first to ensure you can use DOT4 in your vehicle.
Note: DOT 3 and 4 absorb moisture when exposed to air. That can decrease the boiling point and reduce effectiveness, increasing the risk of brake failure.
- DOT5 fluids are silicone-based, meaning they don’t absorb moisture like the other two. DOT5 has the highest boiling point, but you should never use it in cars that specify DOT 3 or 4.
Always check your owner’s manual to see what brake fluid the manufacturer recommends. Using the wrong brake fluid can damage your brakes.
Make sure the fluid level is between ‘max’ and ‘min’ levels
Remove the lid and check if the level is above the minimum. If so, you don’t need to add any. If not, add brake fluid until it reaches just below the maximum level. Do not overfill your brake fluid.
Checking and refilling your brake fluid is critical for car brake maintenance.
2. Clean Brake Dust Off With A Clean Rag
Brake dust is a mixture of metal and carbon particles created from brake usage. Over time, these particles can build up on your wheels and cause your brakes to fail.
The best way to remove brake dust is with a clean rag. Wet the rag with water and soap, then rub it over the affected area. If the brake dust is stubborn, you can use a brush to scrub it off.
Be sure to dry the area thoroughly after cleaning it, as water can rust your brakes. Using a clean rag often does the job in most cases.
3. Inspect Your Brake Lines For Cracks Or Corrosion
It’s essential to inspect your brakes regularly for wear and tear. You should check your brake pads, discs and shoes at least once a month.
You should also inspect your brake lines for cracks or corrosion. Brake lines are made of metal and can rust over time, and you should replace the brake line if you see any cracks or corrosion.
Brake lines can be difficult to check yourself. If you’re not confident doing it, you should go to a qualified mechanic.
Or better yet, get a qualified mechanic like Tunemaster Mobile Automotive Services to come to you. We can take care of any car brake maintenance you need.
4. Change Your Brake Pads Every Six Months or 20,000 Kilometres
A professional automobile mechanic can identify irregularities in your brake system, including brake pads. Ideally, it would help if you changed your brake pads every six months or 20,000 kilometres.
Brake pads are soft and wear down over time. When they get too thin, they can’t stop your car as effectively and can cause your brakes to fail.
If you wait too long to change your brake pads, you may also damage your brake discs. As a preventive measure, you can do the following:
Have the brake pads evaluated by a trusted car mechanic
A trusted car mechanic can tell you when to replace your brake pads. Getting your car serviced regularly will help identify any problems.
It will help you track when your brake pads need to be replaced and avoid damage to your brakes.
Check the thickness of your brake pads
You can also check the thickness of your brake pads yourself. Most brake pads have a wear indicator that tells you when to replace them.
To check the thickness of your brake pad, remove the wheel and look at the brake pad. If it’s less than one-quarter inch thick, it needs replacing.
If you don’t feel confident evaluating your brake pads, you can take your car to a mechanic and have them do it for you. Or, you could get a mechanic to come to you.
Change your brake fluid regularly
As we mentioned before, brake fluid can boil and cause your brakes to fail. To prevent this, you should change your brake fluid every two years or 24,000 kilometres.
Beware of unusual changes in brake function
Unusual grumbling and screeching noises may mean your brakes are not functioning correctly. Similarly, if your car pulls to one side when you brake, this may also indicate a problem with your brakes.
If you notice any of these changes, you should call a mechanic to have it checked out.
Coasting is a driving technique that takes your foot off the accelerator and lets your car’s momentum carry it forward. It can help you save on the wear and tear of your brakes by minimising pressure. Moreover, it’s a great way to save on fuel usage.
Keep a distance from other cars
Following a car too closely may require you to brake more often, which can wear down your brakes. To avoid this, you should keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
A good rule of thumb is to leave one car in length for every ten kilometres per hour you’re travelling. For example, if you’re driving at 30 kilometres per hour, you should leave three car lengths between you and the car in front of you.
Invest in high-quality brake pads
Substandard brake pads are more rigid and can damage your brake discs. Brake discs are expensive to replace, so choosing a quality brake pad that will last longer and protect your discs is essential.
You can ask your mechanic for recommendations on the best brake pads for your car.
Following these steps can put you on the front foot for car brake maintenance.
5. Replace Your Brake Rotors Every 100,000 Kilometres
Worn brakes can cause your car to skid or swerve when you brake, which can be dangerous. Regularly inspecting your brakes will help identify any issues early on so you can fix them before it worsens.
Here are some signs of a damaged or worn-out brake rotor you need to watch out for:
High-pitched screeching noises when you brake
Screeching noises may come from the metal indicator on your brake pads. When your brake pads wear down, the metal indicator comes into contact with the rotor and creates a screeching noise.
Vibrations in the steering wheel or brake pedal when you brake
If your steering wheel or brake pedal vibrates when you brake, it could signal a warped brake rotor. Warped rotors can cause your car to shake when you brake.
Your car taking longer to stop than usual
If it takes longer for your car to stop, it’s a sign that your brake pads are worn out and need replacing.
Your car is making grinding noises
Grinding noises can indicate a badly damaged brake pad. It is dangerous as it can cause your brakes to fail.
If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to replace your brake rotors. Replacing your brake rotors every 100,000 kilometres ensures your brakes are in good condition.
Following these tips can help maintain your car brakes, prevent brake failure, and keep your car safe on the road. Contact a reliable mechanic if you’re not confident checking your brakes yourself. A reliable car mechanic can ensure your car is in good condition and help you save on costly repairs in the future.
Tunemaster Mobile Automotive Services has over 30 years of experience in the industry. As mobile mechanics, we come to you, so you don’t have to stress about getting to a mechanic. We ensure your car is in top condition, keeping you and your loved ones safe on the roads.