Many drivers underestimate the importance of the brake system; while you need to have a working engine and suspension system, the brake system is crucial to keeping you safe and avoiding accidents. Let’s be honest, if you can’t stop your vehicle then you’re a in a bit of a pickle. But what is the entire braking system made from and what are the individual components? Let’s explore the braking system for newer road users as well as go into some issues you might have with your brakes.
The Car Brake System & Components
Being able to brake effectively is very important in many situations; other drivers or objects on the road may appear out of nowhere or you might have caught a red light at the last minute. Getting your brakes sorted by your own local mechanic is all well and good, but understanding how the whole system works is the first step towards understanding how to maintain your brakes (and stay safe on the road).
The master brake cylinder is one of the most important components of your system and is how power is transferred to the brakes to clamp. It stores and distributes pressurised brake fluid to your vehicle’s wheels giving your vehicle the ability to stop. If your master cylinder has issues, then you’re going to have either inconsistent or weak braking ability.
Brake Lines and Hoses
These can be considered as the veins or arteries of the braking system; the lines and hoses transfer the fluid between all the components of the braking system. The transfer of fluid occurs when the brakes are pressed and then the pressure is distributed within the entire system.
Brake callipers are responsible for transferring pressure to generate friction on the wheels to make them stop. The transfer of pressure comes from the master cylinder so the callipers can do their job to slow the vehicle.
The pads are where the friction occurs and helps to clamp onto the wheels to make them slow down. If we didn’t have this friction from the pads the ability to slow down would be much less efficient. Because these components get worn easily it’s recommended to replace them often.
Rotors and Wheels
Rotors are attached to the wheels in a disc brake system, the rotors are essentially the connection between the wheels and the braking system. The rotors get clamped by the callipers and brake pads when they transfer the hydraulic pressures that slow the wheels down.
Common Problems with Brakes
Now that we’ve established the components and working of a braking system, it’s important to look at some of the major issues we face with brakes.
Worn Brake Pads
If you hear a squeaky sound when you press on the brakes, then this is a good indication that your pads might need to be replaced. The sound is due to brake pads being worn down so much that there is either metal-to-metal contact or low padding. Luckily this is an easy fix and all you need to do is find replacement pads which is relatively cheap.
Air Within Brake Lines
If you’ve been braking and noticed that it’s softening that may be an indication that the brake lines have issues. The main problem that can arise is that air gets trapped within the lines and hoses. This is due to a leak in the lines which is usually caused by corrosion and will need to be checked out by a mechanic locally to assess the situation.
Brake Fluid Leakage
Similar to getting air within brake lines, fluid leakage can also be a common occurrence that is due to things like corrosion. The braking system requires lots of fluid to operate and high levels of pressure so any alteration to this balance may be the cause of issues. If you notice weakness in your brakes best to get them checked out by a professional.
The brake system is an essential part of your car, not only for performance but also for safety. While many drivers don’t pay so much attention to all the individual components of their vehicles the brakes are definitely something worth looking out for, if you can at least be aware of what any noises or weaknesses in brakes then it will help you spot problems early. Happy driving.