Checking Car Brakes: What You Should Do to Stay Safe on the Road

Posted on: 20 December 2019

Driving with a faulty braking system is something you should never risk. If the brakes malfunction during an emergency, there is a high risk of collision, injuries and fatalities. One common cause of brake malfunction is poor maintenance. If you don't regularly inspect your brakes and look for signs of trouble, you will be caught unawares.

With this in mind, here are a few things you should do to avoid braking system malfunctions and stay safe on the road.

Listen for Grinding and Squealing Noises

Every driver knows the normal sounds their car makes when it's in good condition. You know the sounds your brakes make when you hit the brake pedal. Therefore, you should be alarmed if your car starts to make grinding or squealing noises every time you hit the brakes. Grinding and squealing noises are a sign of worn brake pads.

The problem with worn brake pads is that they cause the car to lose braking power. They also increase the stopping distance, cause skidding and in some instances, cause the brakes to fail altogether. Luckily, you can avoid all these dangers by replacing worn pads immediately after you notice unusual noises.

Check the Firmness of the Brakes

Brakes that are working correctly should feel firm when you push against the pedal, and this pressure should increase with each push. If they go down with little resistance, you have a problem on your hands. A common cause of this problem is low brake fluid in the system.

A vehicle's braking system operates using hydraulic pressure from the brake fluid. If there is a leak or the fluid is low, there will be little pressure in the system to apply the brakes and stop the tires. Low braking fluid can cause additional problems in your car, such as overheating and wearing of braking system components.

Regularly Check and Replace Brake Fluid

As seen above, the brake fluid is crucial in providing hydraulic pressure to stop your vehicle. In addition to this, brake fluid also lubricates other components in the system and draws away heat. Thus, if there's not enough of it, you can expect excess heat and friction, which will compromise the entire system.

Check your brake fluid and top up when it's below the recommended level. Also, replace the fluid every two years. Even with regular top-ups, condensation can form in the reservoir. Dirt and debris can also collect in the liquid and compromise its quality. Cleaning out the reservoir and replacing old fluid will ensure the proper functioning of the system.

Finally, if you notice any of these problems, avoid DIY fixes as they may cause more harm than good to your vehicle. Visit a mechanic for professional repairs, servicing and advice on car maintenance.