03 Jan 2013
January 3, 2013

Brake maintenance

0 Comment

Is an essential and often overlooked part of your vehicles safety and running system. Often overlooked as most components are unseen there are several levels of brake maintenance that any home mechanic should be able to do.
First you need to have the right tools and these should include a proper jack for your vehicle if a car or truck and most certainly vehicle stands that will take the tons of weight of your vehicle if the jack collapses or the car moves and comes off the jacks.. Never go beneath a vehicle without these and the vehicle safely locked from rolling. Always perform work on a flat dry surface away from other cars and certainly not on the roadside.

If working on a car or light truck ,remove one wheel at a time to expose the brake rotors and caliper. Check the brake rotor for wear limits and severe scoring. As a general guide if there is a lip that appears to be more than one mm on the outer edge of your discs it could be near its wear limits and the remaining thickness should be measured with a vernier gauge and checked with vehicle rotor minimum thickness specs. Motorcycle discs have much lower wear tolerances, generally half of one mm each side means the rotor is worn out and should be replaced.

To remove the disc pads from the caliper you will need to first remove any hardware that secures the pads in the caliper such as slider pins or pressure clips and then loosen the caliper retainer bolts taking care not to twist or damage the hydraulic hose that feeds the caliper and cause leaks or damage. Support the caliper with a hook made from an old coat hanger if need be but do not hang it on the hydraulic hose. The pads should be easily removed them from the caliper. Often not thought to be an essential part of brake maintenance is inspection of the pads which are without doubt the most important safety item on your vehicle.

Motorcycles suffer constantly from corrosion of moving brake parts as they spend so much of their life outside and unprotected in the rain.

Remove the pads marking inside or outside carefully so to be able to re install in the same locations and brush the pads clean with clear water or brake cleaner. Do not use soaps. Inspect the pads carefully around the edges to check for cracks between the pad material and the steel support plates and if any noticed the pads must be discarded., In salt and wet driving conditions and years of use it is common for pads to corrode and to run pads after they start to develop cracks around the bonding edges can cause loss of brake pads and loss of brakes. All pads have a finite wear life and brake maintenance should also include measuring the pad thickness and checking for sufficient wear material. Discard the pads when 4 mm of one eighth of an inch of material is left to avoid brake fade. If one brake pad needs replacing you will need to replace the whole set.

Check then that the caliper pistons and any slider pins or slideways in the caliper are free to move in and out of the calipers watching carefully brake fluid levels in your master cylinder which should be open and wrapped with a rag to catch spillage. Remember not to get brake fluid on paintwork as it is corrosive. On a sliding caliper where slider pins run within a rubber sleeve, clean the slider pins and grease before re fitting into the rubber protectors.

Final part of your brake maintenance after checking and cleaning all parts is to carefully re assemble making sure not to get greases or brake fluids on to the brake pad or rotor surfaces which can cause loss of brake. A Light film of high temp grease on the brake sliders is acceptable.

Pump up the brake pedal and monitor brake reservoir fluid and top up as necessary.

If any fluid leaks are observed during brake maintenance these must be address professionally by a competent mechanic.