Getting your brakes regularly serviced and repaired is a vital part of car ownership, and is the single biggest factor in determining how safe your car is to drive. But what goes into a full brake repair, and what determines how often you should be taking your vehicle in for one? It's not just about looking for wear and tear on your brake pads--a full brake service incorporates a variety of jobs, including:
- Checking for wear on the brake pads or shoes, and replacing them as necessary
- Testing and calibrating the lubrication of the brake calliper slides
- Checking the brake fluid system, including all hoses, and carrying out a brake fluid change
- Cleaning and servicing the hardware throughout the vehicle's braking system
- Taking the car for a test drive to ensure everything is operating at peak performance
The frequency with which you'll need to get this service done depends on three main factors:
1: Vehicle type
The heavier your vehicle is, the more force is required to stop it from moving. This means that your brake pads will wear down faster if you're driving a truck or an SUV than they will if your car was designed to be small, lightweight and agile. The weight your vehicle carries also has an effect on this; if you regularly transport heavy loads in the boot of your family car or if you often tow trailers or caravans behind you, you'll need a brake service more often than someone with the same car who rarely uses it for anything weightier than groceries.
2: Driving style
If much of your driving takes place inside cities, you'll be stopping and starting a lot more often than someone who spends the majority of their time behind the wheel on long, straight rural roads. This naturally increases the amount of wear and tear on your brake pads—after all, you're braking significantly more often. Give some thought also to how aggressive a driver you are; if you frequently find yourself making swift stops, the cumulative effect on your braking system will build up over time.
3: Whole-system considerations
Not every part of your brake system will wear out at the same rate. The first time you have your brakes serviced, you might only need to have the pads replaced and the rotors turned. Over time, though, more parts of the brake system will need to be looked at—hoses, fluids, calipers and wheel cylinders. If you've had your car for a while and haven't yet had a comprehensive brake repair, it's more important than ever that you ask for a full service the next time you're in the garage.
If it's been a while since you last had your brakes repaired, get in touch with a local mechanic today. This isn't something to put off: your safety, and the safety of everyone who travels in your car, depends on it.