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17 March 2022
Brakes on any vehicle work with a friction pad placed against a disc with force. The friction of the pad against the disc causes heat to spread out over the brake disc, causing the car to slow. The same applies for brake drums with the brake shoe pressed against it, heating up and again slowing the vehicle.
Start under your foot and apply pressure to the brake pedal. This pressure is transferred to brake servo which uses engine power to increase pressure.
How is the pressure transferred to the friction (brake) pads? The secret to brake fluid is in the brake pipe, which runs from the servo and the brakes. Fluid is used as cables would require constant adjustment due to stretching from the heat and constant use.
As mentioned the heat is dissipated from the pad by the brake discs. 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. To further improve the braking of a high performance car you can always fit larger discs but you may have to fit different wheels.
Brake pads play an important role in stopping your car. The higher the friction, the better it will perform. Fast road pads give a good compromise between standard and racing pads with some generating zero pads. Your driving style and driving habits will have a significant impact on how the pads and discs wear.
ABS helps to prevent lockups under heavy braking and allows you to steer the car but steering will reduce the braking efficiency as the ABS cuts 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.
You have many options to upgrade your cars braking system. An easy upgrade is to fit larger discs. For example, if you have a family car with small discs, you can visit your local breaker to get parts or order online for a performance version. It is common for small cars to share brake parts with their bigger brothers. A little bit of research can lead to some surprising results.
General Maintenance of Your Brake System
You should inspect your brakes at least once a year. Start by checking your pads and discs for wear and tear. The edge of the discs shouldn't have a ridge due to excessive wear. Thin discs can crack under extreme heat conditions. You should check your pads for wear, as they can eat into your discs.
Brake fluid levels should be changed at least once per year but no longer than every two years.
One point to make is to test your brakes by applying them after driving through standing water to remove the water and grease build up.
I hope that you found this useful. It's important to pay attention to your brakes in order to safely stop your car.
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