Brake the Habit

Every one of us who drives in the UK, all 45 million or more of us, know that driving is very useful for getting places, occasionally great fun, usually boring, and can be dangerous. Most advertisements for cars focus on the power or the lifestyle that comes with buying their particular brand, but not many people actually focus on the essentials. In our opinion this is the tyres and the brakes. If it weren’t for these you wouldn’t be going anywhere fast (ok ok, and the engine), and lack of maintenance of them can lead to disastrous consequences. Tyres are relatively easy – you can see if they are soft or flat, and by turning the wheel to full lock you can inspect the wear. Sorted. Brakes on the other hand are a bit trickier. Here’s five tips for what you should be looking out for

1. Get to know the feel
Pay attention to how the brake pedal feels when you drive day to day, it should have some travel but be quite firm, and progressive. Once you know the feel of your own brakes, as they vary from car to car, you will be able to spot when something is wrong

2. Pay attention
Whilst it’s true that you can’t visually inspect your brake pads, you can feel and listen out for any changes or odd noises. Scraping, vibrating or burning smells are all signs that the pads have worn very thin/ worn out completely.

3. Service regularly
The best thing to do, unless you are a competent mechanic yourself, is to make sure that your vehicle is well maintained at all times. Most modern cars let you know when a service is required, but if you have an older model make sure to note the mileage at which you next need a service

4. Take conditions into account
This point can’t be emphasised enough really, drive to the conditions. Yes, your brakes may work well and your tyres fresh, but in the rain or cold conditions braking distances are vastly increased, so allow extra braking distance.

5. If the worst happens
If your brakes do fail, don’t panic. Allow the car to coast to a stop and pull over to the side of the road. If you need to brake, use the gears to engine brake, and try to utilise the handbrake as well. Make sure to put your hazard warning lights on to let everyone know as well!

If you’d like all of this in a handy takeaway for, maybe to keep with you in the car, have a look at this excellent infographic from Autodoc.

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