It goes without saying that brakes are a pretty fundamental part of any vehicle’s safety system. We certainly wouldn’t want to be in a car when they stopped working! However, even with this in mind, it’s amazing how many of us have no idea when they are beginning to fail or how our own driving style is affecting their wear and tear.

Here, gives you the lowdown on how you can tell if it’s time you replaced your brakes, and the small changes you can make to your driving style to ensure they last as long as possible.

How to take care of your brakes

There are a few simple things to remember when driving to help make your brakes last. These are:

• Slow down gently – breaking suddenly at high speed causes more damage than when you do it gradually. In some instances, such as when driving on a motorway, high speeds are unavoidable of course but, where possible, gain speed and slow down gradually so you don’t wear them out.

• Coast along – think ahead; if you know you have plenty of time to slow down and can simply just take your foot off the accelerator to ease the slowing process, go for it!

• Slim down – carrying excess weight in your car can put extra pressure on your brakes. Where possible remove any unnecessary items such as roof boxes to give your brakes a helping hand. This is also good for reducing your fuel consumption, too.

• Check your fluid – brake fluid needs to be topped up or changed on a fairly regular basis, especially if you have an older car. This might be included in your annual service but check your vehicle manual if you want to find out how to check the fluid level yourself.

How can you tell when your brake pads need changing?

You should check your brake fluid regularly, and your braking system should also be checked as part of any MOT or service. However, there are some extra tell-tale signs that your brakes are on their way out that you can keep your eye out for, so we’ve listed them below:

• Most modern cars will have a warning light on the dashboard when your brake pads are wearing

• Feeling the vehicle is taking longer than usual to stop

• Brakes that squeal or squeak

• Brakes that feel thick and spongy when you press the pedal

• Your car pulls to one side when you brake

What to do when your brake pads need replacing

Changing brake pads can be a time-consuming and messy job, not to mention something you don’t want to get wrong! With this in mind its best to call in the professionals and take it to your local garage to get sorted. Make sure you shop around to get the best deal and, remember; new brake pads may need bedding in so go easy on them in the beginning. The mechanic who replaced them should be able to give you advice on how best to treat your newly fitted brake pads.

Sarah Lewis


December 2, 2015