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The Importance of Well Maintained Brakes for Winter Driving

Extreme weather, in the form of ice, snow, sleet and heavy rain, is often encountered whilst driving during the winter months. For UK motorists, these hazardous conditions increase the risk of experiencing problems or accidents whilst driving on our roads. This, in turn, highlights the importance of keeping vehicles properly maintained, particularly in regards to safety items such as lighting, braking and steering systems. Maintaining a fully functional brake system needs particular care because, to the inexperienced driver, brakes will often seem ‘OK’ right up until the moment they fail.

During early autumn, and before the onset of winter, is the best time to arrange to have your vehicle professionally serviced. It’s best to explain you want a ‘winter check’, and you should especially mention a brake safety check which will involve the system components – brake discs, pads, and brake fluid levels.

Technician inspecting a disc brake

Drivers often give very little thought to the operation of their brake system, but any neglect could have disastrous consequences involving costly repairs further down the line. Applying downward pressure on the foot-brake pedal activates a piston which compresses brake fluid in the system, thus forcing a secondary linked piston to move and push the brake pads hard against the brake disc. This stops the car. Ensuring your brake fluid reservoir is always topped-up to the correct level is critically important for optimum braking. Any brake fluid leakage will reduce the pressure the system components can apply, in turn compromising braking efficiency and making it hard to stop quickly when necessary. In fact, any significant leakage of brake fluid is likely to result in brake failure.

Similarly, brake pads wear down as a result of the friction which occurs whenever they make contact with the brake disc. Therefore, worn brake pads will need inspection and replacement at regular intervals to maintain system efficiency. If worn pads are not replaced and the vehicle remains in use, more expensive damage is likely to occur elsewhere in the system. This could involve pistons, discs, seals, and other brake components, eventually resulting in costly repairs and replacement parts. Such neglect also increases the risk of sudden brake failure.

Remember too that tyre maintenance also affects braking performance. Tyres which are under-inflated will often respond unpredictably when brakes are applied. Likewise, tyres which have insufficient depth of tread will often be unable to grip the road whilst braking. During wet weather this can cause uncontrollable sliding, or ‘aquaplaning’. In order to optimise braking functions, your tyres should be in good condition, always inflated to the correct pressure, and have a good depth of unworn tread.

Brake inspection is a simple procedure and should be a regular part of a normal service schedule. This approach will pick up problems early and help to avoid large repair bills in the future. So, to make certain your brakes are always in first class condition, be sure to have them regularly checked and serviced by a professional vehicle maintenance company – such as the experts here at Tyres Northampton – who have the skills and experience to carry out this work, and will also ensure any necessary replacement parts are fitted correctly.

If you are interested in finding out more about brake system maintenance or would like to arrange car servicing to enhance your safety on the road this winter, simply give us a call at Tyres Northampton today. Our friendly, highly experienced team will be more than happy to help and can arrange a consultation at our auto centre at your convenience.

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