Our brakes are THE most important system on your car. Why go if you can’t stop? With proper brake maintenance your brakes will function like new from new to recommended replacement specification. An annual brake service will remove rust build up and keep the parts moving freely as intended. The brakes are forced to squeeze but free movement is all that releases them when you let go of the brake pedal. If the brakes can’t move freely then they drag causing premature wear, excess fuel consumption and less effective braking.
Every 2 years have the brake fluid replaced. Brake fluid is hydroscopic. That means it absorbs moisture readily. Brake fluid’s best characteristic is it’s boiling point. As it absorbs moisture the boiling point drops. When the brake fluid boils you get a spongy feeling pedal. I replace brake fluid with every brake replacement.
So how do you know if you need to have your brakes checked? Well there are a couple things you can do. Check your brake fluid for level and colour. As your brakes wear the level of the brake fluid will go down. This doesn’t mean there is a leak just that the brake pads have less thickness. As the brake pads wear out the brake calipers hold more fluid that is normally in the reservoir. If the level is half way down, then you should see your mechanic. The colour. Brake fluid should be clear. As it wears out it will turn brown, then green then black. We want to change it at the brown stage. If you’re at the brown, green or black stage you should see your mechanic.
Another test you can do is really easy. If you have a laser thermometer this one is cool. This works best with alloy wheels where you can see your brake rotors. It will work with steel wheels too but not with hub caps on. When you finish your trip, point your laser thermometer at the left front brake rotor, record the temperature. Then the same with the right front brake rotor. They should be within 10-20 degrees of each other. Normal temperatures for front brakes is about 60-90 degrees. If you can’t see the rotor you can check the temperature of the rim on both sides for the side to side comparison. Really hot brakes are an indication of a problem, or you are an aggressive driver. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TOUCH THE BRAKE ROTOR WITH YOUR HAND, IT REALLY REALLY HURTS.
And finally some closing tips. Read your owner’s manual. Read the brake fluid reservoir cap. And clean spilled brake fluid off of painted surfaces with water as soon as possible.
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