Car Care: Braking power is over to you

Alloy Wheel With A Red Brake Caliper Photo / Thinkstock
Alloy Wheel With A Red Brake Caliper Photo / Thinkstock

Roads can be pretty crowded, so it's vital to have brakes in good working condition. Unfortunately, many motorists don't think about the condition of their brakes until it's too late. Pit Stop Greenlane owner Lance Joyce says maintenance is a must. "Whether it is a modern car or not, things like pads, brake lines and rotors need regular maintenance."

Here are some things to look at to make sure your brakes are in tip-top condition:

Brake fluid
When braking, fluid from the master cylinder is sent through the brake lines to the wheel cylinders to stop the car. So it's important to make sure your fluid is topped up regularly. Brake fluid can be bought from automotive specialist stores.

Brake lines
Brake lines can be subjected to wear when exposed to the elements. If you see wetness, streaks of dried brake fluid or any form of rust or wear and tear, then you may have to replace them. You can do this by jacking the car up and removing the wheel. Have a rag or ice cream container nearby as brake fluid will start leaking.

Attaching the new lines involves re-attaching them in reverse order to putting them on. New brake lines can be purchased from specialist outlets and it's a good idea to seek advice from a professional.

Bleeding brakes
With new brake lines installed, you will need to add brake fluid to the system and bleed the brakes. After inserting the new fluid, remove the wheel, get a friend to sit in the car and press the brake pedal. When they press down, turn the bleeder hose until the old fluid leaks out. Repeat the process until the new brake fluid can be seen.

Discs and rotors
Check these by jacking your car up and removing the front wheel and caliper. If there is a large build-up of rust or the disc is badly scored or worn unevenly, it would pay to consult a professional.

Pads
Not changing these regularly can be dangerous. As the brakes are applied repeatedly, the pads begin to wear down, reducing the ability to stop the car. Pads come with a "wear indicator", a small piece of metal on the pad to show how far the pads can be worn down before they need replacing. By removing the wheel and taking off the caliper, you can inspect the pads and, if required, replace them. Brake pads are available at most automotive brake specialist stores.

- NZ Herald

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