Brake Wear and Diagnosis

If you start experiencing grinding sounds when braking or a loss in braking power then it’s time to get those brakes checked over. Leaving a worn set of pads on a vehicle is not only dangerous but can mean damage to other parts of the braking mechanism and therefore cost you more in the long run. These days modern cars are fitted with sensors to warn you when your brake pads need replacing. You’ll usually see a dashboard warning light to indicate an issue with the brakes. Make sure you visit a garage immediately to check the brakes. This quick guide will help you diagnose what to do when you experience braking issues.

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The metal of brake components can corrode easily, especially when exposed to the elements. You’ll usually find that the front brakes are less prone to corrosion since they have the most force upon them and the rust is removed by the action of the pad on the disc. That leaves the rear brakes, especially on light vehicles which are used occasionally, to become rusty more often. Reasonably heavy braking can help to shift some of the corrosion on the brakes but if not looked after ‘surface pitting’ can occur. Try to keep an eye on the rear brakes and if you have any major issues with them speak to your local garage immediately.

Brake disc wear

Vehicle manufacturers usually set a minimum thickness for brake discs. When they reach these points then they must be replaced, along with the pads at the same time. Again, it’s common for the front set of brakes to need replacing more than the rear set.

Brake pad wear

The life of a brake pad is dependent on a variety of factors. For instance, the type of vehicle you drive, your driving style and what you use the vehicle for can all shape brake pad lifetime. Usually, your brake warning lights will indicate on the vehicle when you need replacements. Ignoring the warnings can cause ‘scoring’ on the brake discs and lead to them needing to be replaced as well which is much more costly. MOT tests along with regular services will help you to determine the best time to change them. When you have new pads fitted, you may notice that the pads can be shiny and make braking feel different for the first 50 or so miles.

Disc distortion

Every time you brake, there is a tremendous pressure on your brake discs. Over time the heating and cooling of the discs can cause the disc to warp slightly, which can be noticed by a juddering motion felt through the brake pedal when in use. Should you feel this effect it’s time to get your brake discs checked by a garage to avoid any further issues. A good tip to prevent excessive distortion to the discs when travelling down steep hills, is to use a combination of lower gears and gradual braking.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid is rarely an issue if your car is serviced regularly. Manufacturers usually recommend that your brake fluid is replaced every two years, regardless of the mileage done. The reason behind this is that brake fluid naturally absorbs water from the atmosphere over time and can cause braking issues. When the water is subjected to high temperatures under heavy braking, this can lead to it vaporising and compressing, meaning braking performance becomes sluggish.

Clean the brake dust off

Over time, brake dust and road dirt accumulates on the wheels and it’s sensible to clean it off, not only because it looks unsightly but it can get stuck to your wheels. It can also cause that annoying and sometimes deafening ‘squeal’. Using a damp sponge and cold water – along with plenty of elbow-grease – should get rid of it easily from the rims of the wheels.

Need help with your brakes?

If you notice any issues with your vehicle’s brakes or are concerned about any noises you’ve noticed when braking, feel free to give us a call and we’ll happily book you in straight away. When it comes to brakes, it’s important to get them checked out immediately for your own safety and others on the road.