Car disc brake maintenance: Tips for safe, non-squeaky driving after COVID-19 Lockdown

One of the many critical components in your car are your brakes. Modern cars are equipped with disc brakes that help you stop while driving and is the first line of defence in the event of a mishap. Here are some tips to know to ensure you have enough stopping power when you need it once you start driving again after leaving your vehicle idle during the coronavirus lockdown.

Car disc brake maintenance: Tips for safe, non-squeaky driving after COVID-19 Lockdown
Audi RS performance Disc-Brakes (Image: Audi)

Your first line of defence in the event of a crash are your brakes. The brakes are a critical component that helps slow down and stop your vehicle when required. All modern cars are offered with standard disc brakes at least at the front. While the system itself is quite complex, it takes very little know-how to maintain them on your own and ensure they are working as they are intended to. With most cars having been stationary for a long duration of time due to the coronavirus lockdown, it can have adverse effects when you finally venture out for a drive., Here are 5 key tips that you need to know about your car’s disc brake maintenance.

Check your brake pads and rotors

The brake pads are squeezed against the disc rotor that creates the friction to help slow you down. Due to that friction and heat, the brake pads are designed to wear overuse, and so are the rotors. The pads are the components that require more frequent maintenance between the two. Inspect the quality of the brake pads to make sure they have enough life left in them. To know if it’s time to change the pads, a squeaking noise while braking can be heard when you apply the brakes. If that has been happening with your car, then it is time to change the pads. If you sense a vibration during brake from the brake pedal, check your rotors, as it is likely that the rotors are worn or warped and you will need to replace them immediately. As most people have been forced to not venture out during the coronavirus lockdown, most cars and SUVs have been left idle for a long period of time. This can result in the disc rotors beginning to rust which will need to be replaced. Additionally, if you head a squeaking sound while driving, take a look at your brake pads as it could be a result of brake binding. The noise would be audible if once you release the brake pedal, the pads stick to the rotors and not move away as they are designed to. This would be a result of too much brake dust, and the system may need a cleaning. In some cases, you may require new brake pads altogether.

Brake Fluid

The brake fluid acts as a catalyst between you and your car’s braking system. When you press the brake pedal, the pressure is built thus allowing the master cylinder to pump the fluid through the brake lines that activate the brakes. Check the level of your brake fluids and it is recommended that it needs to be replaced at regular intervals around 30,000-40,000 kilometres. If you sense that the fluid is milky, then it is time to drain and change the fluid.

Brake Lines

To create the pressure in the braking system for the brake fluid to properly do its job, any air-pockets or bubbles can hinder the effectiveness of the system. When you change the brake fluids, make sure to bleed the system of any air by depressing the brake pedal while adjusting the bleeder valve. Keep depressing the brake pedal and once you feel the resistance from the brake pedal that you are normally used to, the job is done. This should be practised every 2-3 years or during a scheduled brake inspection service.

Replacing or Upgrading brakes

If you are required to change any physical or mechanical component in your car, it can be worth considering an upgrade for a higher performance set. Some specialised braking system can withstand more heat as it would feature a design for better cooling. Or upgrading your pads that are more efficient and last longer, produce less brake dust. While these may cost a slight premium over your standard brakes, they would last longer, offer better stopping power and stop at a shorter distance thus making it safer to drive.

Accelerated brake wear

While most braking systems in cars are designed to ensure that they offer sufficient bite to keep its occupant safe, there are many factors that come into play when it comes to how effective your brakes are and what can cause them to wear out more quickly. The more your car weighs, the more braking force is required to stop the vehicle. The later you brake, the more force is required to help stop the car. The more force you apply on your brakes, naturally the more quickly you will need to replace your pads and other components. Try removing any unnecessary weight from your car, and practice more relaxed braking while driving. This will help ensure your brakes perform better and last longer.

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First published on: 20-05-2020 at 12:37 IST