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When it comes to driving, brakes play a very important role that can help ensure our safety.

02 Jun 2011 | Category: Car Maintenance Advice


Braking is an essential part of driving simply because it enhances you and your passengers' safety on the road. Thus, having knowledge about your car's braking system and keeping it in good working condition should be a major priority.

For people who travel a lot or encounter heavy traffic regularly, your brakes are heavily utilised. So it goes without saying that parts of the braking system will wear out. It's a slow process which means that you may not notice the wear and tear until it's too late.

When will I know if it's time for brake inspections?

You may require a brake inspection if you're having brake problems such as soft pedal, pedal vibration, squealing noise or if parts of your brake system have been damaged. But if the problem is isolated to just one part, there's no need to replace the other components that are still in good working order.

There is no specific mileage interval at which the brakes need to be relined because brake wear varies depending on how the vehicle is driven, the braking habits of the driver, the weight of the vehicle, the design of the brake system and a dozen other variables.

As a rule, the front brakes wear out before the ones on the rear because the front brakes handle a higher percentage of the braking load -- especially in front-wheel drive cars and minivans. Servicing just the front brakes is fine and can save you money as long as the rear brakes are in good condition. But if the rear brakes need attention, they should be attended to as well.


What parts are replaced during a brake job?

Most of the time, brake jobs may consist of replacing the front disc brake pads, resurfacing the brake discs, replacing the rear drum brake shoes, resurfacing the drums, bleeding the brake lines (replacing the old brake fluid with new fluid), inspecting the system for leaks or other problems that might require additional repairs, and checking and adjusting the parking brake.

Some brake jobs may also include new hardware for the drums and rebuilding or replacing the wheel cylinders and calipers. But because of the added expense, these items should be made known to you by your mechanic before proceeding with the repairs.

Hardware includes things like return springs, holddown springs and other clips and retainers found in drum brakes. It may also include bushings, pins and clips on disc brake calipers. Springs lose tension with age and exposure to heat. Most experts recommend replacing the hardware when relining drum brakes to restore proper brake action. If weak springs are reused, the shoes may drag against the drums causing accelerated shoe wear, brake overheating and possible drum damage.
Is it always necessary to resurface the brake discs?

Not really. You should resurface them only when necessary. If the brake discs and drums are in relatively good condition (smooth and flat with no deep scoring, cracks, distortion or other damage), they do not have to be resurfaced. Resurfacing the brake discs unnecessarily reduces their thickness, which in turn shortens their remaining service life.

When should resurfacing of the brake discs be done then?

There are two main issues to be considered whether resurfacing of the brake discs are necessary.

Surface condition

Scoring, pitting or other minor surface imperfections should be cleaned up by resurfacing. Resurfacing is also recommended if the brakes have been squealing.

Warping of brake discs

Variation in the thickness of the disc or uneven spots on either disc face will cause the brake pedal to pulsate or shudder when the brakes are applied. Flatness can be checked by placing a straight edge against both faces of the discs. If the discs are warped or has hard spots (which are often discolored blue or black), the brake disc should be resurfaced or replaced. Hard spots that develop from overheating or uneven tightening of lug nuts can create raised areas on the surface that often extend below the surface.

Conclusion

It's important to note that the less expensive brake parts may initially cost lesser and save you a few dollars on your total bill, but you may not be satisfied with the way they perform. Brake pads that are of lower grade may not be as durable as the better quality ones, and may have a greater tendency to fade at higher temperatures, causing the increment in the vehicle's stopping distance somewhat. Therefore, it's best to go with recognised brands and quality parts.

After all, we shouldn't be stingy on safety.



To upgrade your brake kit, you can visit our MCF Marketplace.

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