Unlike many parts of your car, your car’s brakes tend to wear out in several ways, which is why regular brake service should be on your schedule. The most obvious wear is of the friction surface of the brake pads and brake shoes, which flakes off every time you use your brakes. This is why you need to replace your brake pads every so often. The brake rotors and brake drums wear out similarly, but much slower than the softer friction materials. On the other hand, your brakes suffer in different ways.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Duration: 20-30 minutes
- How often: As needed
Why checking brake is essential
Cold temperatures are a problem our cars regularly endure, especially the further north we go. Because it is an oil, brake fluid itself does not freeze until about -40 °C, and additives can push that down even further. On the other hand, because glycol-ether-based brake fluids are hygroscopic – they absorb water – increased water content has the undesired result of increasing the freezing point, which can gel and freeze in severe cold. Still, that’s not the biggest problem your brake system faces.
Oxygen on the Attack
Rust is one of the biggest problems Canadian brake systems face, chiefly because they are so exposed to the elements. Even dry, unprotected brake parts will corrode in the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere, brake parts turning to rust. Water from rain and snow accelerates the process, and road salt even more so, as the saline electrolyte accelerates the oxidation reaction.
In turn, rust creates its own problems, aside from simply being ugly. Rust takes up additional space, compared to the host material. Moving parts, like brake pads and caliper sliders, might seize in place, causing excess wear and reduced braking performance. Rust also reduces cooling, which can lead to overheating. Seized parking brake cables might prevent your car from moving at all. Rust pitting can create brake fluid leaks or allow brake lubricant to wash out. Finally, as rust flakes away steel brake lines and parking brake cables, these become weaker and more prone to failure.
Oxygen also attacks rubber parts, such as brake fluid seals, rubber brake lines, and caliper slider boots. Over time, these can become brittle and crack. Brake fluid leaks and brake lube fallout can leave your brake system compromised.
Brake Service to the Rescue
You have no control over these environmental issues. Still, you can prevent much of the damage by regularly cleaning the undercarriage of your car, especially during salt season, and having your brake system regularly inspected. A full brake service should include, as needed, inspection of brake lines, brake fluid water content, and all moving parts, such as brake caliper sliders and brake pads. Consider painting unprotected surfaces. If anything requires attention, taking care of it right away will ensure reliable braking performance even in extreme conditions. For example, if the water content of your brake fluid is too high, flushing it out with fresh brake fluid will eliminate the problem.
Because the brake system is such an important safety feature, we suggest turning to your local trusted mechanic for professional brake service. Even if you do it yourself, a quick brake inspection at NAPA AUTOPRO offers peace of mind that can’t be beat.