Snapshot – Road safety is inextricably linked to how soon and how safely you bring your car to a stop. While having massive brake rotors on all four wheels will help you stop in the least possible distance, mere stopping is not enough many a time. You need consistent braking performance over varied terrains to stop safely. Doing so requires you to keep your brakes in top shape. While constant brake pad and disc replacement, brake bleeding and ABS system checks can ensure a quick stop, time after time, conserving brakes will keep you on top of the game, every time. CarToq lists out 8 braking tips that will go quite far towards making your drive safer, and also towards improving the life of your car’s brake pads and discs.
Go easy on the brakes, every time you can do so.
The first and the most important tip of braking is to go easy on the brakes every time you can do so. In other words, when there’s no immediate need to stop in a hurry, take your time to bring your car to a rest through braking. Gentle pressure on the brake pedal is the key here rather than stomping on it. Gentle braking will not only conserve your brake pads but also will ensure that you don’t get rear ended. Going easy on the brakes will also improve the safety levels of the drivers behind you, who will get more time to react.
Coasting is a good idea
Spot a traffic red signal up ahead? It’s a good idea to go easy on the accelerator pedal and use the car’s momentum to coast to a stop rather than going pedal to metal and screeching to a halt just a few feet of the stop line. Like gentle braking, coasting is a concept that will not only help save your brake pads and discs, but also a technique that will boost mileage. Wear and tear on other car parts will also be reduced to
Downshifting to shed speed
Engine braking is your ally. Shifting to a lower gear in anticipation of a speed breaker ahead and letting the car’s engine braking slow it down is one way you can minimize the usage of brakes in many, everyday situations. Engine braking refers to shifting to a lower gear ratio to reduce speed of an automobile. To illustrate, suppose you are doing about 50 Kph in fourth gear, merely shifting to the third gear will allow you to reduce the car’s speed to 30-35 Kph without even touching the brakes. Engine braking is vital for downhill stretches as it will allow your brakes to cool down and also help keep your car at safe speeds while coming down hilly stretches.
Never keep the car in neutral while coming down a hill/Always keep the car in the lowest possible gear while driving downhill
Now, who doesn’t want to conserve fuel? Downhill stretches are particularly attractive when it comes to allowing the car’s momentum to help you traverse the stretch while using minimal fuel. However, many drivers tend to shift to neutral on downhill stretches, seeking to maximize the car’s momentum. Three words, never do it. No drive/neutral means no engine braking and this is not only hard on the brakes, but is also extremely unsafe as the car’s momentum can soon get to uncontrollable speeds, especially while hurtling down a ghat road. In fact, many accidents on the ghats are caused due to loss of control on a vehicle whose brakes have overheated. Using neutral while coming down a long slope is a surefire way to overheat your brakes and cause a potential brake failure. Follow the downshifting method to shed speed on the slopes and also ensure that you are in the lowest possible gear to keep speeds in check while coming downhill.
Keep distance at the front and the rear of your car
Maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead of you will give you and your brakes enough time to bring your car to a safe stop in case of emergency/panic braking situations. Naturally, a longer distance to stop means gradual braking and lesser wear on the brakes. A safe distance between you and the car behind you will allow you to escape getting rear ended in case you need to brake hard. While you can’t really control the behaviour of compulsive tailgaters, you can always allow the tailgater to overtake you by slowing down. It’s in your best interest that you ensure that tailgaters are kept at a safe distance.
Keep an eye on brake pad wear and disc scoring
Maintaining your brakes in ship shape can often mean the difference between a nasty accident and a near miss. Ensure that you change your brake pads before they’re completely worn out. Driving with worn out brake pads may stop your car during gentle driving. However, such pads will also score the brake discs, resulting in additional expenses. It is in your best interests to change brake pads once they begin approaching the end of their lives. Also, replacing scored brake discs will ensure that your new brake pads live through their entire engineering lives rather than getting worn prematurely.
Bleeding brakes after pad/disc replacement is a must
In hydraulic brakes, a single air bubble in the braking system can render the brakes useless. To ensure that you don’t suffer this issue, the braking system needs to be bled every time a brake pad or disc is replaced. Ensuring that your mechanic goes the whole hog with brake bleeding during pad/disc replacement will keep your car’s braking system working at 100 %.
Slow down in inclement weather
Inclement weather conditions such as slushy, rainy or snowy roads require you to slow down adequately so that you don’t stress your braking system when an emergency braking maneuver manifests itself. High speeds in low grip conditions means that the brakes have to work extra hard to bring your car to a halt. Naturally, high wear and tear will be result.