A lot of people think,brakes on a vehicle or a car are needed to be changed before they are worn out. So if you ask any one “When to change brakes on a car? “They will simply say ,”before they wear out”,yes its true but there are many more things to consider before changing your car’s brake pads. You need to check for few more things too,before your brake pads go completely ruined.
Image credit- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_brake
Following things will make it simple to understand and answer the question “When to change brakes on a car?“:-
- Brake pads and rotors(in case of disc brakes) or drums(drum brakes) makes contact during braking and the friction between them reduces the motion of the vehicle hence stopping the vehicle.If the friction reduces then it can be hazardous(this is not normal but can happen).
- Brakes works on the basis of friction’s law.The friction on the other hand leads to the production of a lot of heat,which needs to be depleted properly or your brakes pads wear out rapidly or you may face a condition called as “brake fade”,where brakes doesn’t perform much properly. Due to several common reasons like this manufacturers prefer disc brakes over drum brakes.
- Modern brakes are normally hydraulic,so there can be situations where over heating may leads to boiling of Hydraulic brake fluid(It is water soluble). Keep a check on Hydraulic fluid level after a month or two,service intervals are longer and low fluid may result in low pressure and hence low braking,which people think is the right time to change the pads and they are wrong.
- As i said brake fluid is water soluble,so it may catch water soluble impurities which will reduce braking power or performance. In order to prevent that,the manufacturer cover all the openings or attachments in brake lining but if you see any leakage or wear and tear or brake oil dipping, change the entire lining. Repairing wont work on brake lining,because the pressure built in those linings is too much to leak the fluid during braking.
- Check for uneven wear and tear over the brake pads. Simple thing to notice first is any type of vibration or wobble(movement from left to right). If anything like that happens then something might be wrong with:- 1. Brake rotors,2. Brake pads uneven wear and tear,3. Brake pins(pins that slide back and forth during braking and brake release,they have boots which protect the greasing from dust,if boots are gone dust enter them and prohibit them from moving back and forth),4.Low fluid levelmay be the cause,5.Bubble of air in the fluid may be present.Contact the mechanic or visit the mechanic and tell the problem.The main cause can be one of these for sure,rest is the worst case scenario.
- Excessive or aggressive braking might lead to more wear and tear for brake pads.Drive responsibly and brake accordingly,excessive braking might ruin your suspension bushing too and the comfort is compromised.
- In case of accident or similar damage to any part of braking,just change the entire braking device or tool involved in braking. Say the disc rotor got hit during an accident and it is slightly bent or scratched but will work,don’t trust it,in worst cases it may lead to consequences. Just change the part and feel prepared for the worst.
- Never leave the brake fluid filler cap open or un-tightened. Impurities are the biggest enemy of Hydraulic braking system. If you found out that it was like that,close tight the cap and go to the mechanic, ask for “Brakes bleeding” or complete brake fluid change. Do no compromise in braking fluid. But the thing is, never keep the hood open or never forget to close all the lids or caps, after any fluid refill or check ups.
- DOT 3,4,5 fluids are for braking purposes. DOT 5 is better but majority of mechanics prefer DOT 3,because of availability and up to the mark performance. Some mechanics and experts avoid the usage of DOT 5 because of its insolubility to the water,so if water is found in the braking system,then it wont dissolve in the brake fluid and in the case of over heating it may boil and leads to reduction in pressure in braking system.
- Brake pads always make a screeching sound when worn out. Brake pad manufacturers provide pads with a little metallic strip set at a various level where it will start rubbing against the rotors and makes a screeching sound. This works as a indication and it marks the right time to change your brake pads. Drum brakes are needed to be opened to check for the amount of wear(loss in braking is the indication of brake pads change though). Moreover they are closed,so the debris from the rubbing pads may collect in the drum reducing the braking performance.
- Disc brake rotors are need not to be changed frequently,manufacturers claim a life span of more than 120,000 Kms (Much of the manufacturers claim) and they don’t wear out much rapidly,if they do then it can be a material malfunctioning. Don’t go for performance rotors,they may provide better braking but more braking put more stress on the suspension components. Performance rotors can be of any type,drilled or slotted or drilled-slotted (see the image at right),they all are performance rotors and put a lot of stress on your vehicle’s suspension and wears your suspension bushes more rapidly. Total performance upgrade will be a good idea,except go for blank rotors which normally manufacturers prefer.
- Normal brake pads can’t work properly on high speed braking and you may notice “brake fade” on high speeds. Don’t worry nothing is wrong with your brakes,its just the high speed and the friction between the rotor and brake pads produces gas(due to reaction between the heat and carbon present in the pads) which reduces the friction between them and hence the “brake fade”. Normal brake pads works fine when cold and at optimum temperatures,nothing you can do to keep them at optimum temperature,just keep in mind during a high speed run and brake accordingly.
- Brake pads are not much costly but it may not be necessary to go with the regular brake pads change every 20,000 Kms. Brake pads may last more than 30,000 Kms or even 40,000 Kms. All depends on the material, wear and tear according to braking habits. Braking normally on uneven roads can also put more stress on the tyres or suspension components,brake before pot holes arrive if you can spot them.
I may have covered a lot of points to consider before you answer,” When to change brakes on a car ?“.Keep on reading more of our article and subscribe to our Blog ,like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.