Many drivers don’t know much about brake systems, and so when the brakes start to show symptoms of ill health, they may not realize something is wrong. If you don’t fix the problem early, especially if it’s an old car, it will only get worse.

What does it mean when you find fluid puddles on the floor under your car? Do you know? Well, that and other things is what you will learn as you read on. The following are the things you don’t know about brake systems:

1. How Often Should You Replace Brake Pads?

The rate of brake pad wear and tear varies depending on type of vehicle and your driving habits. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to do at least one brake pad replacement annually. 

To help ensure the brake pads are long lasting, avoid sudden slams upon the brake pedal. You should instead develop a gradual stopping habit.

2. Brake Fade

Brake fade happens when the brakes take longer than usual to start. This may be a temporary symptom caused by overheating rotors. 

However, if you don’t deal with it, both the rotors and pads can become unresponsive. That’s why when you experience brake fade, you should take your car to a mechanic for a parts inspection to ensure you don’t eventually have to change both the rotors and pads.

3. Water Affects the Brake Systems

Water reduces braking effectiveness. When you’re driving through a flooded area, the brake pads become wet, which increases stopping distance, particularly if you are driving at a fast speed.

After driving through a flooded patch of road, pump the brakes gently and then repeat the gentle pumping action several times at slow speed. As a result, the brake pads will dry up, enabling you to use them more effectively.

4. Leaks affect brake systems 

Don’t ignore leaks. They are a symptom of an issue with the hydraulic. A leaky brake line leads to loss of brake fluid and that can cause total brake failure.

If you find fluid on the ground or floor under the car, get it checked, especially if the brake pedal is running to the floor.

5. Squealing Brakes

If your brakes are squealing, it’s time to replace the brake pads. Brake pads typically come with built-in metal tabs known as “squealers” which are designed to scrape the rotor when the pads get too worn down.

6. Spongy Brakes means faulty brake systems

When the brakes feel “spongy”, it means there may be air in the brake line, or you have a leak on your hands.

Brake lines are the most critical part of the hydraulic system – they are what stops the car when you push the pedal. Sponginess in the pedal suggests that the rubber brake lines are deteriorating.

If moisture gets into the brake lines, it causes brake system failure and makes the brake fluid go bad.

When the system is healthy, brake fluid is clear or light gold in color. When it turns brown or black it means the brake fluid has gone bad.  Change your brake fluid regularly – don’t wait for the color to turn.

7. Be Gentle When Driving in Extreme Conditions

For the sake of your braking system’s good health, take it easy when driving in extreme conditions. 

A good example is when you do extensive braking on steep mountain grades. It causes buildup of heat in the brake pads and inhibits their ability to work properly.

Worn brake pads are especially vulnerable, since they don’t have enough composite material for quick dissipation of the heat.

Final Thoughts

Be mindful of your car’s braking system. If you notice some of the symptoms we have mentioned here, act accordingly. Quick action by you will ensure the components of your braking system function well and last long.

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