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17 March 2022
Brakes on any vehicle work with a friction pad placed against a disc with force. The friction between the disc and the pad causes heat to spread over the brake disc, which causes the car to slow down. The same applies for brake drums with the brake shoe pressed against it, heating up and again slowing the vehicle.
Starting under your foot the pressure you apply to the brake pedal is transferred to the brake servo, this utilises engine power to increase the pressure and ensuring you can still feel your leg after a long journey!
How does the pressure transfer to the friction pads (brake)? Well the secret is brake fluid - this is contained in a brake pipe that runs from the servo to the brakes. Fluid used in cables would need constant adjustment because of stretching due to heat and constant usage.
The brake discs dissipate heat from the pads. For improved dissipation vented brake discs have a central channel that increases the surface to air ratio of the disc and gives more efficient cooling. Drilled and vented discs increase the air ratio, prevent a build up of gases and keep the pads in a clean condition. You can fit larger discs to improve the braking performance of high-performance cars, but you might need to use different wheels.
Brake pads are obviously an essential part in stopping your car and the higher the friction the better the performance. The fast road pads offer a compromise between racing and standard pads, with some generating zero. Your driving style and driving habits will have a significant impact on how the pads and discs wear.
ABS prevents lockups when you brake hard. It also allows you to steer your car, but ABS will cut in more.
Stainless steel braided hoses prevent any flexing and therefore loss of pressure at the pad end, they also look nicer and theoretically last longer too - get a full set and do the front and back at the same time.
There are many ways to upgrade your car's braking system. The fitting of bigger discs is an upgrade that could be a fairly simple option. Take a standard family car for example with small discs - you could visit your local breaker or buy brake parts online for a performance model from the same vehicle. Small cars usually share the same brake parts than their larger brothers and just a small amount of research could turn up some surprises.
General Maintenance of Your Brake System
You should inspect your brakes at least once a year. Check your brake pads and discs for wear. The discs should not have a ridge on the edge due to excessive wear, thin discs can warp under immense heat conditions. Check your pads for wear as they will eat into your discs when worn.
The level of brake fluid should be checked at least once a year, but not more than twice a year.
It is important to check your brakes after you have driven through standing water. This will help to eliminate any grease and water buildup.
I hope you have found this information useful, it's important to understand the attention you need to give your brakes as you need to stop your car with confidence.
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