How do I check the brake system?

How does it work?

There are two main types of braking system: disc brakes and drum brakes. Disc brakes are more common, but drum brakes can still be found on older vehicles.

There are several parts to check in the braking system: the brake pads and the brake discs. It is normal for them to gradually wear over time, so they should be checked regularly.

When should the brake pads be changed?

  • Check them around every 20,000 miles.
  • When the dashboard wear warning light comes on (see image below), this means that your brake pads are too worn. On vehicles without a wear warning light, you need to check the thickness of the brake pad lining regularly. When this is less than 3 mm you must have your brake pads replaced.

When should the brake discs be changed?

  • Check them around every 30,000 miles.
  • Change the brake discs immediately if you detect a problem (scuffed, cracked, broken discs, etc.) or when they wear down to the minimum thickness (indicated in your vehicle owner’s manual).

When should the brake fluid be changed?

  • Every two years on average.
  • When the brake fluid warning light comes on (see image below), it needs changing.

A few warning signs:

  • The steering wheel vibrates when you brake.
  • The brakes grind and/or squeak.
  • The braking distance increases.
  • The brake pedal is too hard or too soft.

This article was written with assistance from the Bosch Car Services network of garages.

Bosch Car Service

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