Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Brake Safety Awareness Month - Vol.311

One of the most important aspects of any vehicle is the braking system, which needs to be in good enough shape for everyday use and when the need arises to bring the vehicle to a complete stop quickly. Working brakes are not just important for your safety and that of your passengers, but also for other drivers and pedestrians on the road. Since brakes are not readily visible and often work well for extended periods of time, they can be overlooked when checking on your vehicle. While it is important to check your brake system regularly, August is brake safety awareness month and this is a good time to ensure that the most important safety mechanism in your vehicle is working well. Brakes often show signs of age and wear when they become hot or overheated, and with August being one of the warmest months this can be a common time to notice the signs that your brakes need attention.

How Brakes Work
The system designed to slow or halt your moving vehicle often has four major components; the brake pedal, a hydraulic line, the brake pad or drum, and the brake rotors. When depressing the brake pedal the hydraulic fluid is pushed through the line which causes the brake pads to compress and make contact with the revolving rotor causing friction to slow or stop the rotation of the tire. While brake systems are a fairly simple design, modern improvements have led to longer lasting and better performing brakes. Many vehicles do include systems like anti-lock braking, which helps prevent complete locking of the wheels in order to avoid loss of control over the vehicle. Each part of this system is important and should be regularly checked on and maintained.

Signs of Brake Wear
There are many signs that your brakes need to be checked and may be in need of fixing or replacing. A visual inspection of the rotor and brake pad can give you some information, such as whether or not there is any rust on the rotor or the striations are beginning to appear. The presence of rust does not necessarily mean that the brakes need changing, but it is always best to check with a professional if you are unsure. Another sign of brake wear can be a shuddering of the vehicle when engaging the brakes, which is created by the uneven engagement of the brake pad with the rotor. When bringing the vehicle to a stop the brake pedal may pulse or shudder in response to any degradation of the brake system. Brakes that are actively failing my slow the process of acceleration and create drag on the wheels of the vehicle. Modern brake design has built in measures to help drivers become aware of the need for maintenance and one of those signs is a clicking noise while depressing the brake pedal. Finally, as brake pads become too thin to be safe they will begin to make a loud squeal or grinding noise when brining the vehicle to a stop. If you hear squealing or grinding when depressing the brake pedal it is time to change the brake pads and the rotors. These things will become more noticeable during extended driving, because as the system heats up it losses the capacity to stop the rotation of the tires.

The Importance of Brake Maintenance
People tend to take their vehicles ability to stop for granted, as modern braking systems can last many years and can continue to work without a significant amount of attention. However, this does not mean that you shouldn't check up on the status of your brakes on a regular basis. The various signs of poor brake performance do not necessarily mean the system needs replacing, as there are a variety of smaller maintenance measures that can be taken to improve performance and stave off the need for a full brake job. Full brake jobs can become an expensive endeavor, but regular maintenance and checkups can prevent unexpected expenses. The brake system in your vehicle is at the top of the list for necessary safety measures and is essential for your safety and the safety of others on the road.