- How often should I have the brakes checked on my car? Is it enough to just wait until the next roadworthiness test?
The standard interval for checking the brake system is every 15,000 to 20,000 Km, provided that no other faults indicative of disc and pad wear or damage are noted, such as vibration, suspect noises, cracks and discolouration caused by overheating. So it is always enough to just wait for the next roadworthiness test.
As winter approaches and you take your car to change over to winter tyres, this is also an opportunity to be certain that you'll be driving in complete safety.
To be completely sure that you can depend on your brakes, ask your tyre service professional or mechanic of choice to check the wear of the brake system components on your car.
- How can I tell if the discs and pads need to be replaced?
Discs should normally be replaced when they reach the minimum thickness (Min TH) indicated by the manufacturer. This is the minimum thickness that the disc rotor can reach while still ensuring the safety and performance of the disc itself.
Similarly, brake pads must also be replaced when they reach the minimum permitted thickness. With some pads, the minimum thickness is indicated either by an electric sensor in the pad or an audible wear indicator, while with others, wear is checked with a simple visual inspection by you mechanic.
It's important to remember that the pads must also be changed when replacing the brake discs.
- After changing pads, how important is bedding-in and how long does it take? What must I always do when bedding-in new parts for the best results?
The vehicle must always be test-driven after fitting new brake pads and discs to check them. The bedding-in procedure must be followed for about 200 to 300 Km after replacement. During this period, the driver must make sure that there is no noise or vibration from the brakes when driving and under braking, and that the braking action itself is effective. For the duration of the bedding-in process, the brakes must only be applied briefly and gently to allow the surface of the brake pad to align correctly with the rotor surface of the brake disc.
Excessively sudden or hard braking before the new brake components have been bedded in completely may cause the disc and the friction material of the pads to overheat and eventually compromise the integrity of the brake components and the performance of the brake system itself.
- Do I also have to check the brake fluid as well as the discs and pads?
Brake fluid is the component of the braking system which deteriorates the quickest.
Because of its hygroscopic nature, brake fluid absorbs moisture from the external environment through the walls of the lines in the hydraulic circuit. This moisture lowers the boiling point of the fluid. As a result of this, the brake fluid is more likely to boil if the brake system overheats and cause an increase in stopping distance. This is the extremely dangerous phenomenon known as “vapour lock”.
This is why it is important to have the brake fluid checked at the intervals specified by the manufacturer and changed when necessary.
- Is it also necessary to change the brake callipers? And if so, when?
The brake callipers and the other hydraulic components of the brake system (lines, brake pistons, brake master cylinders) do not wear out through friction like the pads and discs, and only need not be replaced due to normal wear or in the case of accidental damage. The callipers in particular can deteriorate rapidly if used in very cold or corrosive ambient conditions. Extremely low temperatures, rain, snow and other factors such as the salt and chemical products used to clear and de-ice roads in winter can also cause accelerated deterioration.
Here too, it is important to have the system checked thoroughly if any problems or malfunctions are noted, to ensure that the calliper piston moves freely and that the calliper itself shows no signs of significant deterioration.