How to check your car’s brakes 

All braking system components play a crucial role in maintaining the stability of your vehicle and keeping you safe on the road. Drivers are generally advised to have their brakes inspected once every six months, even if no problems have been detected, as this could help to prevent an accident and prevent costly damages. There are several factors that can affect these components, such as the driving conditions, vehicle weight, driving style, and wheel alignment. Keep reading if you would like to know more about how to detect damage and wear, and how to maintain your car’s brakes.

 Key brake components

 Discs/rotors: The components are attached to the wheel hub and rotate with the wheels. The vehicle stops moving due to the friction between the pads and discs when they come into contact with each other.

 How to check the brakes

 First of all, you will need to raise the vehicle with either a vehicle lift or a jack, jack stands and wheel chocks. Once the vehicle is secured, you can remove the wheels to gain access to the components.

The surface of the discs should be smooth and even. You can inspect them for heavy rust, dents, uneven wear, scratches and scoring without removing them. Minor cases of rust are often harmless, although the rust may worsen over time if left untreated. Do not remove a disc without removing the caliper first.

CAUTION: The calipers will be hot if the vehicle has been driven recently. Handle with caution.

If the caliper is cool, you can check to see whether it is loose by carefully shaking it. A loose component can cause damage to the rest of the braking system.

The caliper dust cover should have an inspection hole or slot for checking the brake pads. If the pads are visibly much thinner or have worn down to the metal plates, they will need to be replaced. If they are less than ¼ inch thick, new ones should be installed.

Locate the brake fluid reservoir on your vehicle and check the colour and fluid level in the tank. The fluid should not be too dark and there should be a sufficient amount left in the reservoir. Do not leave the master cylinder or brake fluid exposed for too long, and make sure to clean the sides of the cap before removing it to avoid contamination.

 When and how to replace the brake pads

 The pads usually last between 15,000 and 20,000 km, varying depending on their quality, road conditions and other factors. Forgetting to replace them can be costly and you may eventually need to replace the discs too.

Most modern pads include a wear indicator, which will cause a high-pitched squealing sound when it is time for a replacement. Other common signs include a grinding sound when braking, a burning smell, a longer braking distance and a pulsating or spongy brake pedal. If the vehicle pulls to one side when braking, this could also be a sign of uneven wear.

The replacement procedure:

Please note: This is just a general replacement guide, please check the vehicle’s repair manual for detailed, step-by-step instructions.


Changing the brake fluid

 One of the main issues with brake fluid is that it is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture over time. Brake fluid has a lower boiling point when it has a high water content and makes the braking system less effective. Moisture and contamination can also cause parts of the system to corrode. If the fluid is too dark or smells burnt, it is probably too contaminated. If the fluid levels are unusually low or it has to be changed very often, there could be a leak. In this case, make sure to inspect the hoses and pipes, and look for leaks around the vehicle.

Different car manufacturers will have different recommendations for replacing the brake fluid depending on the vehicle model. The fluid may also be affected by the driving conditions.

Signs that you need to change the fluid:

 How to change the brake fluid:

Caution: Be careful not to overfill the tank and make sure to use the correct brake fluid as specified in the car owner’s manual. Brake fluid is toxic! Avoid contact with eyes and skin.


Next you will need to flush the system:


How to Check Disc and Drum Brakes


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