How to minimize brake failure
How to prevent brake failure
No matter how good is your brake, no matter what technology what your braking system had such as ABS, EBD, BA, AB-i used. Braking system follows the same principle: hydraulic. A cylinder drum pressured from your feet, then channelled to pinch your disk.
Know your brake
The problem that plague every braking system is heat. There are 3 vital subsystem on every braking system: hydraulic fluid, brake pad and brake rotor (disc)
Hydraulic fluid or the brake fluid is vital since it is your connector between the brake pedal and the brake pad. The brake fluid will boil when it over heats and failed the entire braking system. However well maintained brake fluid is unlikely to boil before the brake pad fails.
Brake pad is the thing that pinch your brake rotor. Heat, too can fail your brake pad and rendering total loss of braking. Brake pads should be replaced when you hear squeaks every time you push your brake pedal. The brake pad usually changed every 30000-40000 km, depending on your car size. Smaller car requires less often changing while larger car requires more. My experience shows that worn brake pad tends to lock your wheels therefore making the car skids. Moreover they also damages the brake rotors more.
Brake rotor on the other hand requires less changing compared to brake pad, since brake rotors are not consumed by much. However they are too vulnerable to heat. Your brake rotor can only used for hard braking only twice and at most three times before they fails you. The brake motor will bent and become wavy. You can feel failed rotor when braking from vibrating steering wheel. Your braking performance will degrade, however the brake system is unlikely to totally failed. Me, myself damages quite a number of brake rotor :)
Maintain your brake
Make sure brake pad is good and the brake fluid is good.
Change brake fluid every 2 years or 40000 km. The problem with brake fluid is, even when changed too late still, your car still can brake. Therefore delivering false sense of safety. However once the brake fluid boils due to water trapped inside, your entire braking system failed. My trick is to use better braking fluid when changing the brake fluid. If your brake system accept DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluid, you can put DOT 4 brake fluid on your car. DOT 4 fluid is a little bit more expensive, however they have higher boiling point and making them more resistant to late changing and abuse.
Brake pad should be changed when you hear squeaks when you brake. It is sound of metal to metal, the brake rotor's metal to a metal deliberately put from car's manufacturer to sign worn brake pad. I don't know about the sound emitted by ceramic brake rotors, but I suppose it should be similar. Moreover worn brake pad tends to lock your wheel on hard braking, therefore making the car skids and that means more problem with the handling of the car. Worn brake pads also damages your brake rotor more!
Brake rotor does not really require changing and usually lasts for more than 100.000 km. One of my car's brake rotor still in a fine condition after 300.000 km (200.000 miles). However it does not mean that brake rotor can't be damaged. Damaged brake rotor will be wavy and its waviness are invisible then can only detected using special tool. When your brake rotor get wavy, you can machine your brake rotor once or twice and after that I suggest that you replace your brake rotors.
Make your braking system light, no oversize rims
Heavy large rims are harder to stop from spinning. This means that they are likely to heat your braking system and brake fluid therefore rendering the braking system failed quicker.
Give your brake a break
When the brake feels a spongy or after hard braking, pull the car over and let your brake cools down.
Combine brake with your gear
Use 1, L or lower gear on extended steep downhill slope. Do not hold your brake. Although most modern automatic transmission car can shift down and making engine brake, usually the engine brake is not enough for steep downhill. You need to manually shift your car to lower gear to force your car to use maximum engine brake. Just do not exceed the maximum speed allowed for lower gear or you might break your engine. This technique is also useful in helping your car to stop after braking failure. In short, do not rest your foot on the brake!
As the only means to stop your car, braking system is very essential to maintain and understand. Any driver should not underestimate their car's braking system health.
Car smashed after brakes failRegular servicing will ensure your brakes are in good working order. Sudden brake failure in well maintained cars is possible but you are probably more likely to be hit by lightning.
Get into the habit of checking your brakes every time you get behind the wheel. Brake testing only takes a few seconds to do and will become habit after a while. There are two checks that you can make - Static and Rolling.
Static brake test:
The static brake test is just a matter of pressing the brake pedal when you get into the car. There should be resistance from the pedal; if there isn't and the pedal feels soft or easily pushes to the floor you have probably got a fluid leak and should not drive the car.
Rolling brake test:
Complete your 'rolling brake test' by pressing the brake pedal gently as soon as possible after moving off and while driving slowly. This will reassure you that your brakes are OK before you need them. Note: this is not an emergency stop! Simply 'feel' the brakes at five or ten miles per hour.
Symptoms of impending brake failure
Brakes operate on a hydraulic system; for the system to work effectively there must be fluid in the hydraulic pipes. If the fluid starts to leak from the system the brake pedal will feel 'softer' and will often travel further when pressed. If your brake pedal feels soft or 'spongy' stop immediately and get a breakdown mechanic to check the car.
When the brake pedal feels soft, you might be able to build up brake pressure by repeatedly pumping it, however, this is only an 'emergency' measure to stop the car once - it is not a 'get you home' solution. Driving with a 'soft' brake pedal is extremely dangerous because your brakes could fail at any moment, even if they don't fail they will be inefficient, possibly leading to an accident.
If your brake pedal feels hard and the brakes are not working or are inefficient, something might have broken in the braking system - BUT... It could just be that something is jammed under the brake pedal. This is why you should keep the floor area of your vehicle free of litter and other stuff that could slide under the pedals.