19 March 2019
All the signs to watch for when doing maintenance on your brakes
The winter months can leave their mark on your car's braking system. Here are some tips for understanding what you need to check and how to maintain your brake discs, calipers and pads.
After a winter laden with humidity, icy roads, rain and cold, the best season of the year comes upon us and our senses are suddenly alert. We welcome the invitation to come out of hibernation and get back to nature - and to better road conditions. When the blooming flowers on the hillsides inspire you to turn your back on bad weather, the right way to take to the road is to make sure the winter agents haven't altered the condition of your discs and pads. The cumulative effect of rain showers, cold weather, and icy surfaces can definitely speed up wear on some of the car’s braking system components. Besides the classic spring tire change, it is a good idea to have the car checked for any signs of wear or system malfunctions. How do you know what elements to check or if there are mechanical problems? And what maintenance operations should be done on the brakes?
Warning signals: when should i schedule a check-up of the brakes?
Just like our senses are heightened with the arrival of spring, we'll notice certain signs that can be interpreted as real warnings of wear on the braking system. These include suspicious noises and vibrations while braking, visible circles or cracks on the braking surface, signs of overheating and the warning light itself. The usual periodic checks may not be enough so if there are signs like these, it is best not to wait for the scheduled overhaul and instead have the brakes checked right away. Usually, the braking system gets a check-up every 15,000 - 20,000 kilometres, but the prolonged effect of winter weather can speed up wear and tear of the braking system, making it difficult to predict when critical issues will arise. For this reason, we recommend taking advantage of the spring tire change to give the car a thorough check-up of the friction material and the other components dedicated to active safety.
Another element that must be monitored is the brake fluid. By nature, it is hygroscopic, meaning it has the tendency to absorb moisture that filters in from the surrounding environment through the pipes of the hydraulic circuit. This could lead to a lowering of the brake fluid boiling point, which opens the system up to risks associated with Vapour Lock: a dramatic lengthening of the stopping distances, especially in the most critical situations. To prevent this, it is important to follow the recommended schedule of check-ups and brake fluid replacement.
Discs, calipers, and pads: post-checkup maintenance
Special attention should also be paid to physical aspects like the thickness of the discs and pads. To ensure the necessary safety levels and disc performance, the braking surface must not fall below a minimum thickness limit specified in the Minimum Thickness (Min TH) parameter. It is the same for the pads too. Electrical or acoustic warning signals for wear detection and careful monitoring by a mechanic help us recognise when replacement is necessary, generally because the thickness of the pads is below the minimum level recommended by the manufacturer. This component has on average twice the wear rate of the brake disc, which is why the pads need to be replaced every time the discs are changed.
For brake calipers, risk goes up after accidental breakage or deterioration. Keep in mind that deterioration is heightened by months of winter driving on wet and icy roads that may also be covered with salt of sand. Salt has positive effects because it melts ice and makes driving safer, but it is also negative because it corrodes the metal, paint and rubber parts of the caliper and braking system. To avoid anomalies and malfunctions of the calipers, it is best to contact a mechanic for a thorough check-up. As far as replacement, Brembo offers an alternative solution with its wide range of remanufactured calipers, which are paired with completely new components and then put through functional tests to ensure they meet the same technical standards as those guaranteed by the original system.
As you can see, even in springtime braking safety is a priority not to be overlooked. Brembo has always been dedicated to braking system integrity, offering cutting-edge solutions to increase the reliability of the components and combat the process of wear. One example is the new Brembo Xtra pads, designed to guarantee comfort and safety, even when driving fast, owing to its special compound made up of over 30 different materials. In combination with Brembo Xtra discs, these pads guarantee performance, durability and less noise, including for the highest performance applications.
Brake efficiency is our speciality: to drive safely, you just need to keep an eye on your car's braking system and take the opportunity of the changing season to decide if it needs any maintenance or replacements!