Brakes

Free car brake checks across central Scotland

Brakes

Having your brakes checked is very important for the general upkeep of your car. Not having your brakes checked on a regular basis can be very dangerous - not only for you, but for other road users too.

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That is why Strathclyde Tyres offer 100% free brake checks. We guarantee all of our work and our service will not be matched.

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Guide to Understanding Your Car’s Brakes

Braking systems rely on friction to bring the vehicle to a halt – hydraulic pressure pushes brake pads against a cast iron disc or brake shoes against the inside of a cast iron drum.

When a vehicle is decelerated, load is transferred to the front wheels – this means that the front brakes do most of the work in stopping the vehicle.

You can expect to have to replace front discs and pads during a vehicle's life due to wear. However, it is more likely that the rear pads and discs will have to be replaced due to corrosion. If you only use your car a little and always keep it in a garage rust is more likely to set in.

Corrosion

With most of the braking force done by the front brakes, any surface rust is quickly cleaned off by the action of the pads on the discs.

Braking effort is much lower on the rear, especially on a small, light vehicle and may not be sufficient to clean corrosion from the surface of rear discs, particularly if the vehicle is used only infrequently and for local trips. Corrosion is generally not a problem with rear drum brakes.

Initial, light corrosion can be cleaned off under reasonably heavy braking, but if left, this light corrosion gets worse and can lead to surface pitting which is acceptable as long as it does not seriously weaken the discs.

Surface corrosion or pitting of discs is not a 'fit for purpose' issue, nor a repair covered by warranty. Rather, it relates to type of use.

Wear

Front discs will wear and eventually become too thin. For safety reasons, vehicle manufacturers specify a minimum thickness for brake discs and when they reach this point, the discs must be replaced (discs should always be replaced in pairs). Pads must be renewed at the same time.

Distortion

Uneven heating and cooling can cause the disc to change shape and this can be detected as a juddering back through the pedal when the brakes are applied.

Thinner/worn discs are more likely to warp than newer, thicker discs.

Try to avoid holding the car back with the brakes on long downhill runs as this will put a lot of heat into the discs. Use a lower gear so you make use of engine braking and use the brakes less.

Pad wear

Brake wear is an indeterminate science. In some cases the brake pads will do 70,000 miles whilst some drivers will find they need changing after only 25,000 miles. The type of vehicle, type of use and your driving style all have an influence on pad life.

Although city driving involves frequent application of the brakes, such low speed doesn't cause as much wear as heavy braking does from high speed. Motorway slip roads are one of the main culprits and this type of heavy braking is more likely to contribute to disc warping and brake juddering.

Front discs and pads will be replaced during a vehicle's life due to wear, while rear pads and discs may have to be replaced due to corrosion.

New pads

New pads can be a bit shiny and need time to bed in. Braking performance will be affected for the first 50 miles or so – brakes will often feel less precise and driving style should take this into account.

Squeal

Not as common-place as it used to be due to improved design, brake squeal is caused by a buildup of brake dust.

Manufacturers fit anti-squeal shims behind the pads, but these can wear. Squeal can be reduced by the application of special grease (compatible with the rubber dust seals used in the caliper) to the back of the pads.

Scoring

If the brake pad friction material is allowed to wear away completely (it should at least be checked when the car is serviced) then the metal backing material of the pad will run on the disc and cause scoring. This will result in brake performance being seriously compromised.

The first clue for the driver is often a distressing metallic noise when the brakes are applied. This can result from a lack of servicing or be caused by a sticking piston in a caliper – the part which pushes the pad against the disc. If the piston doesn't release when you take your foot off the pedal the pads remain in contact with the disc and wear much more rapidly.

If you continue driving and ignore the symptoms, irreparable damage will be done to the discs and these will also need to be replaced.

When pads are renewed it's important to check that the pistons are retracting properly.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs water from the atmosphere – even if the car isn't used. Most of the water absorption takes place through the flexible rubber hoses.

Under heavy braking, such as a long downhill descent, the brakes get hot and heat up the brake fluid. In extreme cases, water in the brake fluid can boil and vaporise.

Hydraulic brakes rely on the principle that you can't compress a liquid.

Although you can't compress a liquid, you can compress a vapour and if this occurs brake feel will become 'spongy' and full braking performance will be lost.

For safety brake fluid should be replaced every two years, regardless of mileage.

Why choose Strathclyde Tyres for your brakes?

  • Free brake checks
  • Repair and replacements on any needed work
  • Competitive prices
  • Guarantees on all work

Call one of our branches today for more information on your vehicle’s brakes or book an appointment online here.