Clearly, brakes are an essential component of your vehicle no matter where you live. But in San Francisco, thorough brake maintenance to keep your brakes in proper working order is especially critical to your survival. Nobody wants to be cruising down Filbert Street and suddenly realize they no longer have the ability to stop.
Here are some common brake problems:
- Worn Brake Pads – Your brake pads suffer the most stress of any element of your car’s brake system. Symptoms of a worn brake pad include squeaking, grinding or increased stopping distance. The warning noises are caused by a thin metal tab that vibrates against the rotor when the pads have worn down to a dangerous level. Brake dust can also cause a squealing noise, which can be removed by spraying brake cleaner. You should have your brake pads checked every 6 months. Be especially diligent with your check-ups if your car model does not have the metal tab because without this warning sign, the pads could wear down far enough to ruin the rotors.
- Warped Rotors – Common in newer cars, rotors sometimes warp due to overheating or incorrect tightening of the wheel. You can tell when this has happened because there will be a pulsing feeling when applying the brakes. The solution is to have the rotor replaced or resurfaced if it is not too thin. Resurfaced rotors can restore flatness and eliminate the pulsing sensation in the pedal.
- Don’t “ride” your brakes – This causes them to overheat. Instead, slow down with moderate pressure and then release the brake to cool.
- Downshift – When traction conditions are good, you can downshift when going down hills to reduce brake use. This way the engine is doing all the work.
- Clean your brakes – Brakes work better when they’re clean and this keeps the temperature down. Wheels should also be kept clean for optimal brake performance.
Driving in San Francisco is hectic enough. Don’t try it with shoddy brakes. Take advantage of these tips for a safe, smooth driving experience.