There is really nothing more important in your car than the braking system. Though the quality of the tires and the road conditions is considered as the most important part of stopping in an emergency the breaks are actually just as important.
You only need to consider that one of the biggest causes of accidents is the breaking system to understand the importance in properly maintaining it. As a result, it is vital to make sure that your car’s braking system is regularly checked to be sure that it is operating normally.
The brake system is made up of five very important components that include the drum, the master cylinder and brake lines, rotors and the caliper pads. For the back wheels the handbrake and the brake light system is also part of the system.
Provided it is well-serviced, a failure of this system is extremely rare. During maintenance, a mechanic will check all aspects of the cars breaking system including the lights, pad wear, the brake fluid pressure and the rotors to make sure there are no signs of damage. So far as brake pads are concerned it’s generally considered important to replace them about every 25,000 miles, though for city drivers this figure is usually a lot less. All pads have indicators so a mechanic will be able to immediately tell when they need changing.
If you’re concerned about your brakes then there are a few ways to tell if they are on the way out. Firstly, should you ever hear a grinding sound when you brake it means you pads are worn-out. Secondly, while slowly rolling forward off a public road, gently push your brake pedal down and should you find it goes quite far down before the brake bites then you also need to get your brakes looked at. This could also be a problem of low brake fluid which is something that you can check yourself by popping the hood and looking at the fluid reservoir to ensure it is full enough.
You might also feel under heavy breaking a vibration that comes from the rotor. Since brakes are required to stop such heavy forces they can end up heating up to over 950 degrees which is hot enough to melt right through your skin. A vibration could be a loose pad or could more seriously be an overheated drum or rotor. This could just be a one-off but should it recur it’s a problem that requires professional attention as in the worst case scenario it could lead to a total brake failure.
The last thing to keep an ear out for is your brakes making more general noises like squealing or grinding when braking as this can indicate they are not calibrated or working properly. Sounds can often begin when you have driven over some dirt or through water and something has gotten into your braking system.
In the final analysis when it comes to something as serious as your brakes, if you’re in any doubt then have it checked out.