Typical Brake Problems
It goes without saying that brakes are a safety critical item and any problems you may encounter will require attention immediately. Some of the typical problems you may experience if your brakes start to develop a fault are:
- Grinding noise
- Pulling to one side
- Loss of brake fluid
- Brake warning light on
- Long travel on foot brake or handbrake
Warning lights - On dash
Most cars have one or two main warning lights on the dashboard. When you first start up your car, all the lights on the dashboard should light up. This is the bulb check; they should go out in a few seconds. If a light doesn’t go out, then your car is alerting you of a problem. If a warning light does not come on during the bulb check, it is telling you that you need to replace the bulb.
Brake Warning Light
If your brake warning light stays on it indicates one of the following:
- Your handbrake is on (should go out when it is released)
- You have lost pressure in the system
- There is a brake fluid leak and the sensor in your brake reservoir has detected your fluid is low
ABS Warning light
The ABS tests itself each time the ignition is turned on. If a defect is detected for whatever reason, the ABS turns itself off and the normal braking system is used on its own. If the ABS warning light stays on (after initial start up) it is telling the driver of a defect in the system. Not only is this dangerous but it will prevent the car from passing its MOT
If both warning lights illuminate at the same time when driving, stop the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
Brake fluid is hydroscopic which means it absorbs water over time and because water boils at a much lower temperature than brake fluid it can cause the brake pedal to "go spongy"
To make matters worse, the only time you are likely to boil your brake fluid is during a period of prolonged braking, or in an emergency stop - not the best time for brake failure!
With our FREE Brake Check we test the temperature the brake fluid boils at and can advise you of its condition.
Brake fluid is a service item and should be changed at least every 2 years.
What is ABS (Antilock Braking System)
Stopping a car in a hurry on a slippery road can be very challenging. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) take a lot of the challenge out of this sometimes nerve-wracking event. In fact, on slippery surfaces, even professional drivers can't stop as quickly without ABS as an average driver can with ABS.
The ABS System has sensors on each of the wheels that relay information back to the ABS computer to tell it if a wheel is just about to start skidding. When the ABS system is in operation you will feel a pulsing in the brake pedal; this comes from the rapid opening and closing of the valves. This allows maximum stopping force to be applied without the brakes locking-up and the car skidding.