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Brake Checks

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 27 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Brake Checks Brake Fluid Disc Pads Shoes

We all know that brakes are what stops us from hurtling into people’s front gardens and running over people who step into the road without looking where they are going – but other than not being able to stop would you be able to tell if your car had Faulty Brakes?

Brake systems today involve lots of different parts that all work together to help you move, manoeuvre and stop your vehicle in a controlled manner. The key components of your braking system include a master cylinder, servo, brake callipers, brake fluid and cylinders, disc pads, drums, and shoes.

The components are linked together through a series of hoses and pipes that contain brake fluid, so that when you press the brake pedal, the vehicle slows down and stops. The rate at which the brakes slow you down is determined by how much pressure you apply to your brake pedal and the condition that your brakes are in.

Checking Your Brakes

Most people check their brakes before they go off on a long journey, but an awful a lot don’t bother when driving around town. Funnily enough, urban or city driving is actually heavier on your brakes than motorway driving because you need to stop and start a lot more, and occasionally engaging 'emergency stop' mode to avoid hitting shoppers who step off the kerb without looking.

Make Sure Your Brakes Are Functioning Properly

If you carry out regular brake checks, you’re likely to find a problem before it impacts other parts of your car, and importantly for most – can make it cheaper to fix. The consequences of sudden brake failure can be horrendous, resulting in injury, fines, prosecution, loss of earnings and in really serious cases, loss of life and imprisonment.

If you are ever in any doubt about the state of your brakes, in between services, there are plenty of garages and repair chains that offer free brake checks – just check the internet or ring around a couple from the yellow pages.

Routine checks you can do yourself including testing the pedal to see how far you have to press it down before it engages. If you do this regularly you should be able to notice any changes that occur and get them fixed long before they become a real danger.

Also, you should check your brake fluid. Check your brake master cylinder and clutch cylinder. When you find them (use your owners manual to work out where they are located), you should find a "max" and "min" line on the reservoir. Fluid should be even with the "max" level line on both. If the level is too low, you can use a clean rag to wipe the top of the reservoir which will prevent contamination of the brake or clutch system. Your owner’s manual will tell you which fluid is supposed to go in your car – don’t deviate from this because mixing different kinds can really damage your braking system. Make sure the lid is properly sealed to prevent leakage or pressure loss and most of all, be very careful brake fluid is dangerous stuff. It can easily take a layer of paint off a surface - you don’t want to get it in your eyes. Also remember that brake fluid over a year old will have absorbed moisture from the air that can cause your brakes to lose purchase while travelling and cause an accident.

So quite clearly, it’s a major requirement that the braking system employed by your vehicle is at all times in sufficient working order. The person testing the brakes in these cases does not have to be a qualified examiner, but should you be pulled over by a police officer, they would expect to be able to push your car to no avail while the hand brake was applied, and also to expect the brakes to be deployed when sufficient pressure was applied to the brake pedal.

It’s worthwhile you taking the time out to check this because quite apart from the human risk involved, if the police discover that you have been using a vehicle with defective brakes and charge you with the corresponding offence of CU10, you will be fined up to £2,500 (for a private vehicle), and 3 penalty points will be added to your licence.

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arcam2004 - Your Question:
Hi I have been issued with an offer of of fixed penalty for RC86251 defective brakes however I was towing a trailer at the time and wasn't aware that I needed a breakaway cable for my trailer the police directed me to the nearest halfords where I purchased one and have been using ever since. Is it worth me contesting the offer of a fixed penalty of £100 or just paying it outright and if I do contest it at court am I liable to get any other cost added. Either way I will expect to receive penalty points. But am currently unemployed and cant pay this outright as I only get £128.00 per fortnight minus deductions from a budgeting loan taken out earlier this year. If you could give me any information that could help I would be grateful and thanks in advance.

Our Response:
Unfortunately going to court might increase the costs further, even if the courts allowed more time to pay. You do have 28 days to pay the fine...it might be worth going to Citizens' Advice to see if there is any temporary help you can get.
NoPenaltyPoints - 30-May-17 @ 12:06 PM
Hi i have been issued with an offer of of fixed penalty for RC86251 defective brakes however i was towing a trailer at the time and wasn't aware that i needed a breakaway cable for my trailer the police directed me to the nearest halfords where i purchased one and have been using ever since. Is it worth me contesting the offer of a fixed penalty of £100 or just paying it outright and if i do contest it at court am i liable to get any other cost added. Either way i will expect to receive penalty points. But am currently unemployed and cant pay this outright as i only get £128.00 per fortnight minus deductions from a budgeting loan taken out earlier this year. If you could give me any information that could help i would be grateful and thanks in advance.
arcam2004 - 27-May-17 @ 3:04 PM
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