You take the time to check your transmission, replace your windshield wiper fluid, and you always make sure your car looks its best. Why not give that same level of care and attention to one of the most important parts of your car -- your braking system?
If it's been far too long since you've had your brakes inspected or serviced, now is the ideal time to do so. In fact, August is Brake Safety Awareness Month.
So, what are some of the top tips you need to know to ensure that your vehicle brake system can protect you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road?
Keep reading this post for brake maintenance tips.
Your Braking System Doesn't Uniformly Wear Down
When many people think of their braking system, they usually only consider the parts they can see.
Or, they think that because they've invested in a car with a superior braking system, they may not need to have their brakes serviced as often as they normally would.
While, yes, it's always a smart move to select a car with excellent brake durability, this doesn't mean you're immune from problems -- or that your system will start to fail all at once.
Remember that your braking system includes the pad and lining, the rotor, the brake fluid, the brake lights, and the brake lines. Especially if you've had your car for a while or frequently drive long distances, some parts of the system may be wearing out faster than others.
Additionally, remember that some of the materials used to create friction may not always be perfectly compatible with the rotor itself, which can also lead to inconsistent wear and tear.
You should have your breaks checked, at minimum, twice per year.
Know the Common Signs of a Problem
Another important part of brake safety is making sure that you know the most common signs of a problem with your system.
One of the most common and obvious signs is the telltale grinding or screeching noise that your brakes make even if you're not slamming on them. This is a sure indication that it's time to get them checked by a professional, as it means that your brake pads need to be replaced.
Remember that the longer you wait to get service when you hear this noise, the higher your risk of seriously damaging other -- more expensive -- parts of your braking system.
Have you noticed that, whenever you press on the brakes, your car seems to ever so slightly shift or pull to one side? If it feels like your car is out of alignment, but the tug only happens when braking, there's definitely a problem.
One of the most dangerous signs of damaged vehicle brakes is if your brakes engage quickly and intensely even if you just give them a light tap.
This is known as "grabbing," and though it frequently happens with cars that have automatic braking systems, it can also happen to cars of any make/model with worn brakes.
Other things to look out for include vibrations when you brake, an inconsistently in pedal pressure, and delayed braking.
Most of all, remember never to ignore your brake light warning.
Understanding How to Check Car Brakes
So, what's the best way to check a brake system?
Far and away, the absolute best thing you should do is bring it into a professional -- especially if you've noticed any of the issues we've mentioned above.
But many people may have issues with their brake systems that are harder to spot, which is why routine self-checks about twice a month (or more if your car is older) are always a smart move.
Check your brake pads by looking through the spaces between the spokes of your wheel. Your exterior brake pad should be pressed up against the rotor. If it looks like there's less than about a quarter-inch of brake pad left, it's definitely time for an inspection and a replacement.
Another self-check you can do to evaluate the health of your brakes? Check out your wheels.
Keep in mind that it's completely normal for your wheels to have a bit of brake dust in and on them. However, if your wheels look sparkling clean and are dust-free, it means it's time to take your car into a professional.
We'll Help You to Take Brake Safety Seriously
We hope that you'll join us in spreading the word about Brake Safety Awareness Month this August, and that you'll use this post and share it with others to ensure your brakes are in good shape.
Above all, make sure that you only allow qualified and experienced professionals to check your car and perform routine maintenance.
Your brakes are simply too important to leave in the hands of anyone whose qualifications you have doubts about.
Click here to quickly find an AAMCO Service Center in your area, and make sure that you keep checking back in with us to learn more about the coupons we offer to help you save on car repair and maintenance.
Together, let's make the road a safer place for everyone.
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