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Brakes – All you need to know

July 15, 2016

The Braking System

Braking systems are complex and involve a number of different components, including

Brake Discs

  • The brake disc is a device for slowing or stopping the rotation of a wheel it is in motion
  • Brake discs are sensitive components and come under significant stress during braking
  • For your brake pads to work at maximum efficiency, your brake discs need to be in perfect working condition
  • If the disc is deeply scored, glazed, cracked or rusty, replace them immediately
  • You must always replace both discs on the same axle to avoid unequal braking
  • Baldoyle Auto Centre recommend that discs are checked each time the pads are changed

Brake Pads

  • The material which the pads are made from is softer than the discs and will therefore wear out more quickly
  • Worn pads can damage the brake disc
  • Have your brake pads replaced when the thickness of the material is worn down to 2mm
  • Brake pads should be replaced on both wheels on the same axle to prevent asymmetrical braking

Brake Drums and Shoes

  • This is another type of brake where the friction is caused by a set of brake shoes pressing against a rotating drum-shaped part called a brake drum
  • When brake drums are replaced, the brake shoes, wheel cylinders and springs should also be replaced because they are subjected to the same type of pressure as a brake pad
  • The brake shoes should be replaced as soon as the thickness of the lining is less than 1.5mm

Brake Fluid

  • Braking components are linked by a series of hoses and pipes containing brake fluid
  • Brake fluid is a vital part of the braking system and the vehicles anti-lock braking system
  • Over time, brake fluid deteriorates.  Unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked vehicle fluids.
  • It should be regularly changed at least every two years to ensure that the braking system is not affected
  • If it falls below the MIN level in the reservoir (or if the brake warning light comes on), brake fluid should be added to the MAX level
  • If your brake fluid needs topping up regularly, you should have your braking system checked by Baldoyle Auto Centre for possible leaks

What are the warning signs there is a problem with my brakes?

The brake warning light comes on 

If the brake fluid levels is too low or the pads are badly worn (The brake warning light also comes on when the handbrake is applied)

The brake pedal is stiff 

If you have to press hard to the brake it may be caused by a failure in the servo assisted braking unit, hydraulic pipes, wheel cylinders or callipers.

The brake pedal is soft 

If the brake pedal becomes “spongy” or has no resistance and you have to “pump” the pedal to brake, then its a clear sign that there is a serious fault in the hydraulic system

The car pulls to one side 

If the car is pulling to one side it may be that a wheel cylinder or a calliper is seized up or quite simply a tyre may be under-inflated.  Worn shock absorbers can cause the same effect.

The vehicle “judders” when braking 

This indicates a problem with the discs, the linings or that one of the brake parts is loose or broken


On braking, the brake pedal, steering wheel and sometimes the whole vehicle starts to vibrate: the brake discs are probably faulty, or there is a loose part or excessive play in the front or rear suspension.

If you experience any of the above, contact Baldoyle Auto Centre as soo as possible to arrange for them to check the condition of your braking system.

Important: even if you do not experience any of the above symptoms, you should ensure that your brakes are still regularly checked and maintained. 

Baldoyle Auto Centre Recommends:

  1. As braking components wear over time it is important to get your braking system checked and maintained on a regular basis
  2. You get your brake fluid replaced every two years, normally this would happen at your vehicles scheduled service.
  3. Dont forget that any braking system is only really effective with shock absorbers and tyres that are in good condition.
  4. Your brakes are checked by professionals. Our technicians know your vehicles braking system inside out so you can be sure they will provide you with the right advise

Why are brakes so important?

The braking system is your vehicles most important safety feature, enabling you to slow down, stop and stop quickly in an emergency.  Like all components, your brakes and braking performance will deteriorate over time, but because it happens gradually, many people may not notice the difference

It is a legal requirement that your braking system is performing correctly and your brakes will be tested as parts of your NCT. If the braking system is not up to standard your vehicle will fail.

It is therfore vital that your braking system is regularly checked and maintained to an optimum level, ensuring your vehicle is safe and to avoid potential costly repairs.

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