Because a car’s brake system is a relatively simple system, keeping it in tiptop shape should be easy. Here are some tips on how you can maintain the optimum operating performance of your car’s brakes.
Check and maintain brake fluid levels
Make it a habit to check your brake fluid levels. That being said, you should know where your car’s brake fluid reservoir is located. The reservoir comes with level marks. Make sure that your reservoir is filled to the correct level. Perhaps more important is to use the right type of brake fluid. Car manufacturers always have their recommendations when it comes to fluids that work best with their systems. Check your owner’s manual for the specific type of brake fluid you need on your car.
Replace brake fluid
Most car owners have this habit of simply topping off their brake fluids once the level is low. Unfortunately, condensation may infiltrate the fluid over time. If the brake fluid is contaminated, there’s a tendency that the master cylinder can get damaged. The wheel cylinders may also be affected. That said, you should replace or change your brake fluid every 25,000 miles or every 2 years, whichever comes first. You may need to check your manual as well.
To replace your brake fluid, locate the bleeder screw located at the back of each brake. Make sure you have the right tool for the job so you can easily open the bleeder screw without necessarily damaging it. Open the bleeder screw only slightly to allow the brake fluid to drain. You can attach a rubber hose to drain into a container so you don’t contaminate the ground under you or the car’s finish. While the brake fluid is draining, ask a friend to pump the brakes. At the same time pour new brake fluid into the brake fluid reservoir.
You know that you’ve done a good job if the fluid that drains through the bleeder screw looks like the same fluid you’re actually pouring in the reservoir. Once done with one brake, tighten the bleeder screw and continue working on the rest. Once all brakes are done, give it a few pumps to make sure you’ve got pressure on the pedals. Now’s also a great time to check for any leaks in the bleeder screws.
Check the lines and master cylinder
The brake lines and the master cylinder are two essential components of the brake system that convey brake fluid from the reservoir to the individual brakes. As such it is critical that you follow the lines and look for any sign of leak. The joint between the brake lines and the master cylinder can be a good starting point, although the brake lines from the reservoir deserve some attention, too.
Check and replace the brake pads if necessary
The brake pads are often the most abused parts of the brake system. They’re the ones getting heated up during braking. As such, they wear thin over time. Some cars have brake pads that can be easily seen from the outside. Some cars, however, have their brake pads hidden from view. You will need to remove the wheels to check the condition of the pads. The pads should have even wear and should still be at least 5 millimeters thick. Checking the brake pads can be done every 6,000 miles. If they need replacing, then you need to replace them with an appropriate type.
Check and maintain the brake rotors or discs
The rotors should always be inspected together with the brake pads as these two components are basically what are always in contact when the brakes are applied. Rotors should have a smooth surface. If you see concentric grooves forming on the surface of the rotor, it usually means your brake pads are already slowly eating away at the rotor’s surface. In many instances, rotors can be resurfaced in a machine shop. The rotors are removed and smoothened using a grinder-like machine. If the damage is too extensive to be remedied by resurfacing, then you may need to replace the rotor. Always install new pads after getting the rotors resurfaced. This is to ensure that the grooves left by the rotor will not be transferred to the new surface.