The general trend among the youngsters nowadays or even those a decade ago was to make the car go as fast as possible by swapping a bigger engine or even a turbo provided if you know a mechanic who is clever enough. Seldom have I heard about someone upgrading their suspension and brake system to compliment the fast engine. Maybe because it is easier to get a bigger engine for your Corolla or Civic from your local scrap or junk market than getting bigger rotors and calipers for your car. And due to this, unfortunately, we lost few of our dearest PakWheels members as well. The Corollas after 2001 had horrendous brakes. You just touch the brake pedal, and it would fly off.
Your stopping power is just as much important as your acceleration and speed. There’s no point and having an insane amount of takeoff speed when you can’t even stop and end up banging a taxi in front of you. Because let’s face it we don’t have any racetracks in Pakistan, so youngsters end up speeding and racing on public roads. But that debate is for some another time. Let’s talk about car brakes first.
Your brakes are arguably the most important safety feature in your vehicle. And I am not even talking about upgrading your brakes I am just talking about keeping them in good health and making sure they won’t give up on you when you need them the most. A lot of times people from plain areas of Punjab or Sindh come to visit Northern Areas with their families, and they don’t realize how important it is to have good braking power. Driving with your weak braking system in cities’ start and stop traffic can be ok but it is downright dangerous and careless if you take the same vehicle to a hilly or a mountainous area.
If you have just bought a used car, and you are not sure about the health of your brake pads, then it’s a good idea to take it to a certified mechanic or workshop as soon as possible. If your car has drum brakes in the rear, get them inspected as well. It’s better to be on top everything even before the issue starts.
If you hear the brakes of your car squeaking, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. First, have you changed the brake pads of your car recently? If you have changed your brake pads recently and used a different brand of disk pad this time then the previous one, it will take few hundred kilometers for new pads to break in and settle. If it is getting annoying, you can take your car back to the mechanic and ask him to use sandpaper on the rotors and the disc pads to remove the glazing caused by the older brake pads. It will not only help the brakes bite harder and will reduce the slippage as well.
Also, your brakes might squeak if you haven’t changed them for a long time. There is sort of a safety feature on brake pads with a metallic tip. The edge of the tip starts to press against the disk when you apply brakes that are at the end of their life. It is an indication that the braking material on the pads is almost finished and need replacement.
Also, if your brake pads are grinding and vibrating it means your car brake pads are completely gone, and you need to change to new ones immediately. The grinding means there is a metal on metal contact going on, and there is no breaking material to bite the rotors. A friend of mine ignored this sort of grinding sound coming from the front disk brake of his Honda Deluxe bike and one day the pads didn’t let the disk go, and he ended up on the road bruised and injured.
If the brake pedal of your car vibrates when you hit the brakes at relatively high speeds it means the surface of rotors is slightly uneven. You might need to take them to a professional machinist who can tool the rotors back to their flat-form but make sure you hire services of a trained professional because there is a chance an untrained machinist can ruin your car’s disks.
And lastly, replace the brake fluid of your car after every 70 or 80 thousand kilometers. The brake fluid has an inclination to absorb moisture; it’s hygroscopic. The whole purpose of the brake fluid is not to compress in a hydraulic braking system. The vapors absorbed by the brake fluid make the brake pedal feel spongy, and you will lose the full braking performance of your car. Also, check for fluid leaks time to time.
I cannot stress more how important it is to have your brake system checked regularly. These are just a few points of the top of my head. Do a little more research and read more about them. It literally is the matter of life and death. Happy motoring everyone!