Routine brake pad changes are an essential part of proper vehicle maintenance. Ignoring worn-out or failing brake pads can damage your car's braking system and ultimately make your vehicle unsafe to drive. While your brake pads may take center stage, they aren't the only part of your braking system that occasionally requires attention.
If you think that proper brake maintenance begins and ends with pad changes, then keep reading to discover three crucial brake components that you should inspect as a part of your regular car care routine.
Your brake pads slow your car down by creating friction, but they can't operate alone. The rotors (or brake discs) provide the other half of the equation. When you step on the brake pedal, one or more pistons will compress your brake pads against the rotors. This action creates friction that burns off your car's forward motion and converts it into heat.
Between these two components, the rotors are significantly more durable. While engineers design brake pads to be sacrificial, they still wear down the surface of the rotors. Over time, your rotors will become too worn and thin, and they will require replacement. Although you do not need to replace them with every brake service, you should always have them inspected to confirm they are in good condition.
2. Brake Hoses
Your caliper pistons cannot compress your brake pads without hydraulic pressure, and hydraulic fluid cannot reach your caliper if your brake hoses fail. These rubber lines in each wheel well provide a flexible transport method for brake fluid while still allowing your wheels to move up and down with the road. Unfortunately, the composite rubber material used for many brake hoses can fail with age.
In most cases, brake hoses will begin to break down from the inside. This situation can cause the hoses to become clogged, reducing the flow of fluid to your calipers. Severely clogged hoses may prevent fluid from returning to the master cylinder, ultimately causing your brakes to drag. Routine brake service work should always include an inspection to confirm that your hoses are operating correctly.
3. Brake Fluid
Finally, never neglect to check the condition of your brake fluid. Although your brake system is a sealed loop, moisture can still find its way into various components. Your brake fluid absorbs this moisture, reducing its effectiveness. Contamination from failing brake hoses or old parts can also cause your fluid to wear out and function less effectively.
As a general rule, you should follow your manufacturer's recommended brake fluid replacement schedule or replace your fluid anytime it appears burnt or contaminated. Routine fluid inspections and replacements will help to keep your brakes feeling stable and secure.