Stop a minute and think about this. The brake system in your vehicle is perhaps the most important system; at very least, if the brakes don’t work properly, nothing else matters. Your brakes keep you safe by allowing you to control when and how quickly you stop. In order to keep that system functioning properly, your brakes need regular basic maintenance. A certified automotive technician could cover that maintenance, but there are certain maintenance tasks you can do yourself. When it comes to brakes, play it safe. So, if you’re not sure, ask your dealership’s service department and consult your owner’s manual.
The Brake System
Modern vehicles use hydraulic brakes. This means they use a specialized fluid to transfer the pressure that you push on the pedal to the brakes attached to the wheels. Hydraulic brakes have several basic components that need to be checked on a regular basis.
Maintenance: Checking Fluid
One of the easiest things to do for your brakes that will 1.) help them operate properly and 2.) make them last as long as possible is to keep the right amount of brake fluid in the system. The brake fluid is housed in something called a reservoir. If you pop the hood, you should be able to find the brake reservoir fairly easy. On the top of the reservoir, there is a cap labeled “brake fluid” or something similar. If you cannot find the reservoir, look in your owner’s manual for guidance. Once you’ve located the reservoir, follow these steps:
- With a clean towel or rag, wipe the outside of the reservoir. Try to get rid of any dirt or dust.
- Look at the fluid levels. Brake reservoirs are made of clear or translucent plastic and have indication lines on the outside of the reservoir so you can see where the fluid levels need to be.
- If the fluid is low, unscrew the cap and fill the reservoir with brake fluid to the appropriate levels. Don’t let any dirt or debris get into the reservoir.
Before adding any brake fluid to your vehicle’s reservoir, make sure it’s the right type of brake fluid. There are many different types out there, and you don’t want to mix two or more types of brake fluids together. The listing for your car’s brake fluid can be found in your owner’s manual.
Again, if you’re unsure how or if you’re unable to do this, visit your dealer and get the advice of a certified technician or have the service department service your brake system for you. They may even charge less than you might think.
When to Change Brake Parts
How do you know when to change certain brake parts? Noise is the best indicator. Brakes are designed to make a high-pitched squeal when the brake pads are almost worn down. If you notice any other kinds of noises or feel any vibrations, you should consider getting your brakes looked at by a professional. Even if you don’t notice any problems, it’s a good idea to have a technician look at your brakes on a regular basis, every few months or based on your mileage. Any time you get new tires or have them rotated, ask the technician to take a look at your brakes as well. The life of brake parts depends on many factors including your driving style, type of vehicle, and where you drive. If you need a service technician, or just need some new parts, Hubler Automotive Group can help you get what you need.