3 Potential Issues You May Face If You Neglect Your Brakes
A vehicle with a neglected braking system is unsafe to drive. Not only do worn brake pads reduce your stopping power, but they can also result in additional component failures. Maintaining your brake system with regular pad changes and routine inspections can help to avoid these costly repairs and can ensure that your braking components do not fail prematurely.
Below are three of the most common issues you can expect to experience if you ignore your brake system for too long.
1. Damaged Rotors
Your rotors (also commonly referred to as brake discs) provide a rotating point of contact for your brake pads. When your pads squeeze down on the rotor, they burn off some of their friction material to convert your car's motion into waste heat. The solid cast iron or reinforced carbon found in most rotors is much harder than brake pad friction material, allowing your rotors to outlast your pads.
Unfortunately, running down your brake pads can quickly destroy otherwise healthy rotors. Once the pad friction material has worn away, the rotors will come into direct contact with the metallic backing pads. This much harder material can dig grooves into your rotors, forcing you to resurface or replace them along with your destroyed brake pads.
2. Ruined Hydraulic Fluid
Have you ever wondered why a light tap on your brake pedal is enough to bring two tons of screaming steel to a gentle stop? The answer is simple: hydraulics. Instead of controlling your brakes directly, your pedal actuates a piston in your car's master cylinder. This piston provides the hydraulic pressure necessary to clamp your brake pads down on each rotor.
If your braking system overheats, your hydraulic fluid can become burnt and contaminated. If your pads have worn away, then your brakes may be unable to dissipate heat after stopping. Over time, this extra heat can damage your hydraulic fluid and reduce its effectiveness. Contaminated hydraulic fluid may even damage your master cylinder or other components.
3. Piston Failure
Allowing your pads to wear away completely can also damage your brake calipers. Your calipers act as housings for the hydraulic pistons that control your brake pads. If the backing plate of your brake pads wears away, your pistons can come into contact with the rotors. This contact may damage the pistons or even destroy their seals, creating a brake fluid leak.
While the best way to avoid these problems is to replace your pads as needed, you should never ignore these potentially destructive issues once they develop. If your brake system seems to be having issues, always consult a brake repair technician as soon as possible.