Car Brake Maintenance: Everything You Need to Know

Oil changes, tyre rotations, and brake maintenance are among the routine tasks put off by vehicle owners. Ironically, it’s these three maintenance tasks that are crucial to the safety of every vehicle and its occupants.

Your engine’s oil is its lifeblood; if it becomes too old, it might cause catastrophic damage and necessitate expensive repairs. The only point of contact between your car and the road is the tyres; if they break, your ability to keep control of your vehicle on the road, including your ability to accelerate, turn, and stop, is compromised.

car brakes elements

But perhaps the most crucial safety element on your car is its brakes; if they don’t work as they should, it’ll be hard to get a 4,000-pound vehicle up to speed or to stop when necessary. And this leads us to the topic of our discussion: break maintenance.

Assuming you don’t want to be one of those people who neglect their vehicle’s braking system, here are the four essential aspects and elements of car brakes that you need to address.

Replacing the Brake Pads

Knowing when to replace your brake pads is a crucial aspect of car maintenance. If you’re mostly driving in a busy city with notorious rush hour traffic, then your pads will last around 50 000 – 55 000 km. But if you only drive in light traffic, then they may last even longer, up to 70 000 km. And if you’re unsure whether to get a replacement or not, it’s best to have your brakes inspected.

brake pads

However, sometimes these parts need replacing earlier than recommended. If you notice the following signs, consider it your signal to get new pads for your car brakes:

  • Light on the dash
  • Needing to press the brakes harder
  • Longer stopping distances
  • Failure to stop
  • Grinding sounds

One of the most common upgrades is to higher performance parts with improved heat resistance, such as ceramic brake pads that are quieter and produce less brake dust. Your vehicle’s braking system will last longer and function better if these essential parts are upgraded and replaced on schedule.

Flushing the Brake Fluid and Filling Up the Cylinder

With time, brake fluid is susceptible to deterioration. This fluid is hygroscopic, which means that it draws moisture from the air, and the moisture has the potential to damage brake system parts. Although brake fluid is heat-sensitive, it warms up and even boils whenever you apply the brakes, especially if you do so vigorously.

car brake fluid

That said, aim to get your brake fluid flushed every two years, or roughly every 50 000 km. During flushing, all the impurities in the fluid get removed. If the fluid is overly contaminated, your car’s braking power can be significantly affected, putting you at great risk.

Some signs you need to flush the brake fluid are:

  • Spongy feel in the brake pedal
  • Unusual smells and rattling
  • ABS warning light
  • Problems with braking

Besides flushing the fluid, you also need to make sure the cylinder is ful at all times. When the level of fluid is low, the master brake cylinder and other parts are being overworked. And the pads, rotors, and drums are all affected by this cascade.

Bleeding the Brake Lines

Bleeding the brake line to get rid of extra air is a smart idea in addition to replacing the pads and changing the brake fluid. This is because tiny air bubbles can get inside the line and reduce the effectiveness of the braking system.

brake lines

Every two to three years, the lines should be bled, which involves depressing the brake pedal and adjusting the bleeder valve to remove air.

Inspecting the Rest of Your Brake System

So, we learned that the pads will wear out sooner or later depending on your driving habits, and the break fluid will need replacing after some time. But what about the rest of the braking system?

With years of use, most of the components in this system will need to be serviced or replaced. The rotors that the brake pads rub against do in reality lose some material as well. Every time your pads are serviced, their minimum thickness should be measured.


Your brake callipers need to be oiled and cleaned as well, however with time, a calliper may leak or seize up. Hoses dry out, master cylinders malfunction, and brake lines corrode. With time, related parts that are a part of the traction control and ABS systems might also fail.

But don’t let this worry you. A basic examination and a full brake pad replacement service should be the only braking system maintenance required when a car is new. Other problems may pop up as it ages and you will need to address them accordingly.

Just remember: Whenever time maintenance is put off, whether it’s new or old, it compromises the safety and reduces the longevity of your car. Instead of ignoring routine maintenance or a suspected issue with your car’s braking system, make an appointment for repairs as soon as you can and make an investment in your vehicle.