The braking system is a part of your vehicle that is essential for the safety of you and your passengers. For this reason, it must be maintained properly and regularly to keep it in a serviceable condition.
See our experts’ advice on how to maintain your braking system and drive on the road safely.
What is a braking system?
The braking system is a complex set of parts reduces your vehicle’s speed through the friction between them until it comes to a complete stop.
Each car has three types of brakes:
- The main brake operated by the brake pedal.
- The engine brake using the gear lever to shift to a lower gear.
- The handbrake, used when the car is parked or for hill starts.
What does the braking system consist of?
The braking system comprises:
- The master cylinder located behind the vacuum cup the main purpose of which is send pressurised brake fluid.
- Brake fluid which transfers braking power to the wheels.
- Hoses that connect the rigid brake lines to the brake callipers.
- Callipers, which are hydraulic components housing the brake pads.
- Brake pads which, together with the brake discs, allow the vehicle to be slowed down and stopped through friction.
- Brake discs, forming the central part of the braking system that slows down the wheels to stop your car.
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How does the braking system work?
When the brake pedal is pressed, the braking system is activated to slow down or stop the vehicle. The master cylinder then sends brake fluid through the brake lines to the callipers.
The brake fluid exerts a hydraulic pressure that applies the brake pads against the brake discs, thereby slowing down their rotation.
As the discs are attached to the wheels, the latter will then slow down at the same time as the discs, thus causing significant friction between the brake pads and the brake disc.
This friction can cause the temperature to rise 800°C and gradually wear out the braking system.
How can you tell whether the braking system is worn?
If you experience any of the following situations, your braking system may be damaged:
- Jolts or jerks when braking: the brake disc may be warped.
- The brake pedal is soft: there may be air bubbles in the system.
- The brake pedal can be pressed to the floor: there may be a hydraulic leak.
- The brake pedal is hard to press: this may mean a power braking failure, a faulty brake line or brake linings that are too greasy.
- The pedal is easily pressed: this may be as a result of worn linings.
How should you care for your braking system?
To maintain an optimum braking system, it is recommended to:
- Regularly clean the braking system using suitable, specific products such as brake cleaners or wheel cleaners (https://metal5.com/boutique/neoclean-jantes-chromees-500ml/) to remove brake pad residues and dissolve grease.
- Have your brake pads checked every 20,000 km if you do a lot of driving in towns or every 30,000 km if you mainly drive on motorways.
- Have your rear brakes checked every 50,000 km.
- Have the brake fluid checked and changed every 50,000 km.