Give Your Car The Brakes It Deserves
Before you try to stop your car again, you may want to start thinking about your brakes.
Consider the strength and power it takes to bring a 4,000-pound or heavier vehicle from 60 mph to a quick, safe stop. Many drivers take their brakes for granted until they squeal, grind or, worse, stop working altogether.
Before that happens, you can get your brakes checked at a qualified, licensed service center. Driving with worn brakes is dangerous for you, your passengers, fellow motorists and pedestrians. Regular brake inspections also help prevent expensive damage and avert potential safety issues.
Most cars today are equipped with disc brakes. When you put your foot on the brake pedal, fluid triggers a piston in a caliper to press the brake pad against a rotor on the wheel. The friction of the pad against the rotor stops the hub and wheel-and, therefore, the vehicle.
The friction from braking also generates intense heat and brake dust as the pads begin to wear. When pads get too thin, not only can braking ability be compromised, but the heat can damage the rotors and lead to even costlier repairs.
Quality brake pads have a built-in wear indicator that makes a high-pitched noise when the pads are worn. It’s your warning to get your brakes checked as soon as possible.
Other signs that you may need brake service:
Your stopping distance is increasing, causing a longer braking distance
You have to push the brake pedal unusually far to engage the brakes
Your vehicle has a tendency to move right or left when the brakes are applied
The steering wheel shakes in your hands as you come to a stop. (This could mean your rotors are damaged, or “warped,” and need attention.)
When your brakes or rotors need replacing, use quality, tested products designed for your vehicle.
Extend brake life by: Getting regular brake maintenance; Not riding your brakes; Not slamming on your brakes; Removing brake dust and mud from your wheels with regular car washes; Making sure brake fluid is at the proper level.
It’s a good idea to have your auto repair facility check your brakes every time you change your oil or according to the schedule in your owner’s manual.