A car’s brakes are one of the vehicle’s most essential safety elements, so it’s really important they are checked on a regular basis. In the winter especially, wet or icy roads can create particularly challenging driving conditions and brakes need to be up to scratch. It’s actually a part of the UK driving test to show the instructor how to check the brakes are working before setting off on a journey. Need a recap?!
To test the brakes at the start of a journey, press the footbrake as you move off. They should feel sharp and not pull to one side. If they feel ‘spongy’ or are slow to react, get them checked out by a professional.
You can also conduct a static brake test, which is testing the brakes as soon as you get into the car, before moving. Again you’re checking for resistance and making sure the brake pedal doesn’t push all the way to the floor.
Testing brake lights
It’s also important that your brake lights at the rear of the vehicle are working as well as the brakes themselves. The brake lights warn other motorists that they have to stop, and travelling with faulty lights can cause accidents. It is usually best to ask somebody to help you check your brake lights before you set off. Turn on the ignition and press the brake pedal, while someone at the back of the vehicle checks both lights are in working order. If you’re alone, you can look through the rear view mirror and use the reflection of the garage door or a window to test brake lights.
What causes brake failure?
Brake failure is usually gradual rather than sudden, so drivers are able to spot the symptoms and do something about it before it comes an emergency situation. For the braking system to work effectively, there must be fluid in the hydraulic pipes. A break fluid leak can make the pedal feel soft and is one of the most common reasons for brake failure.
There are many other parts to the braking system which could result in inefficiency or failure. You may need repairs or replacements for the brake pads, discs, brake pipes or wheel cylinders.
If you think there might be a problem with your brakes then see a mechanic straight away. Without professional repairs, the braking system will deteriorate further and could cause an accident.