Tag Archives: brakes

How to Avert Impending Brake Failure

Modern vehicles are perhaps one of the most complicated machines that we deal with in our daily lives. They are an assembly of thousands of parts that work together to ensure that we commute safely and comfortably from one point to another.



There were 182,560 casualties reported in the UK due to road accidents, between September 2015 and September 2016. The number of car occupant KSI (killed or seriously injured) casualties were a staggering 9,480 and it rose by almost 10 per cent compared to previous years.

According to a report, technical faults with the vehicle accounted for nearly 22 percent of these casualties; this is a significant number. It has surged tremendously from the 2005 figures where only 1.5% of accidents happened due to technical faults.

Most of these technical faults include problems related to braking system, lights and tyres. Brake failure was cited as the most common technical fault that caused the maximum number of such accidents.

Function of brakes

Most believe that it is the brakes that stop a car. But in reality, brakes provide the friction that brings the wheels to a halt.

Vehicles that are being manufactured nowadays mostly make use of disc brakes. Disc brakes consist of following components:

  • Brake discs
  • Brake pads
  • Callipers
  • Brake master cylinder
  • Brake lines

Function of brakes

The disc brake consists of a plate like disc which is attached to the wheel. Brake pads are placed within callipers and they are used to squeeze the plate to bring them to a stop. It is exactly similar to how you would stop a spinning plate by squeezing it between your thumb and fingers.

Brake pads usually consist of two layers. The first layer is a high friction material while the second layer is the metal plate that holds the friction material. The friction material comes in contact with the brake disc when the brakes are applied and it stops the brake disc from rotating. The backing plate not only serves as a platform for the friction material but also prevents excessive heat from building up and protects the brake calliper from this heat build-up.



The brake callipers consists of small pistons that push the brake pads against the disc. It is due to this action that the moving wheels are brought to a halt. This motion of pistons is a result of hydraulic action of brake fluid which comes from brake master cylinder.

In order to distribute pressure evenly against the brake disc the calliper is fitted with two or more pistons. Higher number of pistons ensure that brake disc is not damaged due to uneven pressure being applied on its surface. For this reason, in high performance cars there are multiple pistons fitted to the brake callipers.

When we press our foot on the brake pedal there is a hydraulic brake pressure which is built up in the master cylinder. This pressure is transferred from the master cylinder to callipers through the brake lines. In a bid to reduce the efforts taken to apply brakes, modern brake systems have been developed with power assistance that increases the action of our foot on the brake pedal.


Effect of Heat

Heat is the biggest enemy of good braking. An enormous amount of heat is produced when the brake pads press against the brake disc. There is a sophisticated system that has been put in place to remove heat from braking systems, especially the front brakes that are heavily loaded. This system contains internal vanes that carry cool air to the outer edges from the centre of the disc. Due to this ventilation, the brakes become less prone to ‘fading’ and remain cooler.

Fading usually occurs when brakes are overheated and overused. Braking ability decreases significantly when the brake fluid boils in the callipers. You should understand that brakes have faded when you experience any of the following:

  • It takes a while before the brakes kick in.
  • The pedal depresses completely.
  • A burning odour is emitted from the brakes.
  • In extreme cases where the brakes have faded completely they can emit smoke or worse, catch fire.

When brakes begin to fade you should drive at lower speeds and try to use them only when required until you get the braking system repaired or replaced.


New Technology

Previously, brake pads were made from Asbestos type material that were quite efficient at resisting heat. But there was a major drawback of this material and this was the excess production of dust. Also there were many gases that were produced by asbestos pads during braking and this was another reason why car manufacturers were on the lookout for a better material for brake pads. These gases could interfere with contact of brake pads with brake disc and to prevent this holes were cross-drilled into the discs.

New Technology

However, there is a big issue that drilled rotors face and this is known as stress cracking. In order to prevent stress cracking, slots were created that promoted cooling and prevented gas from building up. Improved ventilation system along with replacement of asbestos pads led to the production of a highly efficient braking system.

The brake pads that are in use today are made up of materials that are safe for the environment thus making the latest braking technology more eco-friendly than their earlier generations. However, these brakes have their own disadvantage that they cause premature warping of brake discs that causes a pulsing feel in the brake pedal. It is a good idea to get your brakes checked when you take your car for a service.


High Performance Brake Pads

There is a variety of requirements that must be met by brake pads so that they can handle the everyday wear and tear that they are subjected to:

  • Steady performance even in wet conditions
  • Low squeal and noise
  • Low production of dust

High performance brake pads that are specially designed nowadays are capable of resisting high temperatures and do not fade easily despite high heat build-up. The only disadvantage of this braking system is that they are not equally efficient at braking in low temperatures. It is not a good idea to use racing pads on the street as they can never achieve the operating temperature that they are capable of withstanding.


Change your fluid

Brake fluid is susceptible to moisture and this can have a negative impact on the braking ability of the system.

  • The addition of moisture in the brake fluid lowers its boiling point. This increases the possibility of brake fluid boiling when heavy braking is used.
  • Brake fading becomes easier due to boiling of brake fluid and the fading accelerates when the vehicle is being driven downhill where frequent braking is required.
  • Moisture also leads to corrosion of metal components that are used in the braking system and this can lead to breakdown of braking system.

This problem can sound severe but the solution is simple. You only need to change the brake fluid from time to time to prevent the above problems from occurring. The frequency of servicing and changing fluid is usually specified by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual. If the vehicle is being used very frequently then you may have to change it more often.


Keeping the brakes happy

Keeping the brakes happy

The best indication of a well maintained car is its ability to apply brakes. Larger brake discs and higher quality brake pads are available for those who wish to take their car to the track. However, it is important to remember that not every braking system is suitable for a given type of environment. A braking system that is good at braking in a high temperature environment may not be equally effective in a wet environment. By regularly changing your brake fluid and making the right choices your brakes should perform without a flaw.


Dealing with Brake Failure

People with bad driving habits often do not maintain their brakes well. An inevitable and unavoidable situation awaits them and it goes by the name of brake failure. With the advancements that have taken place in the braking technology in recent times a person is more likely to be hit by a lightning than experience a sudden failure of brakes.

This makes it necessary for you to check the brakes each time you get behind the steering wheel. This is a test that you can perform on your way to office or college without having to include it in your clustered to-do list. There are two types of checks that you can perform to get yourself acquainted with the condition of brakes and these are the static and rolling brake tests.

Static brake test

Most of us panic at the mention of the word test as we think there is a lot of analysis and learning involved. However, tests of these kinds are such that anybody with a driving experience of few months can perform. The static brake test involves pressing the brake pedal as soon as you get into your car. If you feel some resistance from the pedal then your brakes are in the right condition.

However, if the pedal gets depressed completely to the floor without offering any resistance then your brakes may be in deteriorating condition or may have already deteriorated. In such cases it is possible that the fluid may have leaked or brake pads need replacement. Whatever the reason may be, it is not safe to drive such a vehicle.

Rolling Brake Test

This is not a test that can be performed on a stationary car. To properly perform this test, the car should be at low speeds of five to ten miles an hour. At such a speed you should apply the brakes to see if they are effective at braking. If the car comes to a halt instantly then your brakes are in good condition. However if the brakes take long to get applied then you may need to get the brakes checked.

Symptoms of impending brake failure

It is the inherent nature of every machine to give warning signs before a system breakdown. Brakes are not any different and give many signals when there is an impending brake failure. Most of the brakes that are used nowadays are hydraulic brakes that make use of a fluid to work effectively. It is necessary that the hydraulic pipes have the optimum level of fluids and any sudden change in fluid levels due to fluid leaks should be easily noticeable. The most common sign of a fluid leak is the brake pedal becoming softer and having a spongy feel to it.

Total brake Failure

Even though total brake failure is extremely rare there are instances when it has happened. In 2010 automobile industry giants Chrysler, Volvo, Honda and Toyota had recalled many vehicles that they believed were at a risk of brake failure.

As you must be aware every car comes with two types of braking systems. The main braking system is usually a hydraulic brake system while the other braking system is the handbrake. In case the main braking system suffers a breakdown you should bring the vehicle to a halt using the handbrake.

Most people already know how to apply the handbrake but for those who are not aware of it, you need to keep the release button on the brake handle pressed as you apply the brake. However, an important point to be remembered is that a handbrake is ineffective if the vehicle is over the speed of 40 mph or engaged in higher gears.

Engines dominate most of our conversations about a car. Performance is like the lead actor of a film who takes away most of the attention but safety is like the crew behind the silver screen, something that we often take for granted and rarely acknowledge. This blog has been written with the intention to highlight the importance of brakes and the steps that need to be taken to ensure that you are safe on the roads.

Why Preventative Maintenance is Important

Why Preventative Maintenance is Important

A vehicle is one of the most consistent and expensive outlays in your life. To make the most of your investment, it is crucial that you maintain your vehicle inside out to extend its lifespan.

The car manufacturers know that customers value a dependable car and when such a car is maintained properly it becomes safer to be driven around thus adding to its dependability too. This is one of the reasons why car manufacturers specifically indicate certain services ‘that must be done’ in order to maintain the factory warranty and extended warranty.

Preventative Maintenance for Your Car

Preventative Maintenance for Your Car

Preventative maintenance is what will keep your vehicle running better and safer on an everyday basis while also prolonging its lifespan. Pay special attention to the preventative maintenance category and here a few items to give you a head-start to care for your auto:

  • Tyre rotation
  • Regular brake checks
  • Tyre pressure
  • Regular oil changes

Car manufacturers also create highly detailed maintenance schedules highlighting specific functions that are to be performed without fail on various systems and components. These services are carried out at different mileage intervals to make sure that proper operation is undertaken, preventing premature wear and tear.

At In Town Automotive we urge our customers to follow the maintenance guidelines compiled for your vehicle. Routine maintenance will ensure that the engine of your car runs well while also eliminating potential problems that might leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Since the inception of cars, manufacturers have always reminded their customers to have their units put through regular check-ups for a hassle-free driving experience.

Modern engineering has given a boost to the car manufacturers as they can now determine the life expectancy of certain parts of the car which enables them to come up with a systematic schedule for the car.

This involves lubrication of the car components, refilling of fluids of the car or replacement of certain parts as per the requirements.

Maintenance of your car involves basic car maintenance or a total overhaul car check-up.

Significance of Basic Car Maintenance

There are several maintenance measures that you can employ to keep your car in the best possible condition. This will require you to bring your car to us and get it thoroughly checked at regular intervals.

Having your engine checked first and foremost is really important. This is because the engine is the heart of any vehicle and with a sub-par engine your vehicle is as good as a metallic bin, a fancy one, but still a bin.

Getting your engine checked will ensure that it is in top working form and up to its speed. It is also important to have a good look at your car transmission.

Checking the Brakes is an elemental part of your basic car maintenance. Seek the assistance of expert mechanics from In Town Automotive to have your brakes checked regularly. Keep in mind that the brakes of your vehicle will keep you and your loved ones safe. Routine brake checks will ensure that you do not inflict any damage to the rotors of your vehicle, ultimately saving you money in the long run.

Routine brake checks

Low brake fluid levels can result in soft brake pedals. At the same time, dirty brake pads are known to cause squeaking of the brakes. Getting regular brake checks can assist in getting rid of this problem and will also considerably reduce the risk of accidents.

A functioning AC offers comfort from the heat outside. If your auto AC emits disagreeable cooling then it is time to schedule an appointment for servicing. AC repair can involve a simple procedure of cleaning out a dirty condenser or a heavy duty mechanical procedure. It is essential that you attend to minor issues as soon as you recognise them so that you can avoid serious problems and a costly car repair in the future.

Significance of Regular Mechanical Inspection

Have your car inspected regularly for safety purposes and also to reduce the cost of car repair. Regular mechanical inspection has to be carried out and this does not mean a general visual inspection of your vehicle. Many aspects and components of your vehicle cannot be checked just by a mere glance which is why it is important that a detailed check is carried out.

Seek assistance from expert mechanics like us and subject your vehicle to a diagnostic check to ensure that all components of your car are in suitable working order. A car diagnostic tool will helps us pin down the problematic areas in your vehicle without having to gut out your car in entirety.

Significance of Immediate Car Repair

Upon experiencing any kind of car trouble, get your car checked without delay. When you address the car issues immediately, you are fending off any recurring damage. The safety system in your car is installed with the sole intention of alerting you of any problems or mechanical failures that your car is likely to have or is already having.

Additional Preventative Checks That You Must Heed

We carry out these checks to ensure that your vehicle is running smoothly:
Check the Filters

Check the Filters

Make sure that the oil filter is replaced along with the oil. Usually people who have budget constraints skimp away from replacing the filter or instead buy one which is mediocre. Keep in mind that metallic parts or any other foreign debris which are not filtered can end up severely damaging the engine of your vehicle.

Check the Belts

Check the Belts

A typical car engine consists of several belts that make a car function smoothly. These include the fan belt, drive belt, timing belt and power steering belt. As belts are generally made out of rubber, they eventually degrade over time.

Make sure that you replace these belts as often as the car manufacturer suggests as this will help in fending off problems like mechanical breakdown, loss of electrical power, overheating and heavy steering. If you do not get a belt replacement on time, it has the potential to cause severe engine damage which is surely going to burn a hole in your pocket when it comes to repairs.

Check the batteries

Check the batteries

Apart from vehicle power rating, car batteries now come with an expiry date. Batteries that come along with the purchase of a brand new car generally last between two to three years. The price of the car batteries may vary depending upon its guaranteed lifespan. To avoid a dead car battery, ensure that you replace the battery as soon as its warranty expires.

Check the Transmission

An integral aspect of any vehicle is it transmission. Routine checkups and oil flushes will make sure that the vehicle’s transmissions are in good shape.

Check the Tyres

Tyres are made from rubber and they begin to wear out after several thousand miles. So, to prolong the life of the tyres that is including the spare ones, they should be rotated every 5000 miles or so to make sure that this wears off evenly.

You need to pay special attention to the air pressure in the tyres to extend its life and usage. Check with the car manufacturer how frequently the tyres require to be replaced and do so accordingly.

Benefits of Preventative Maintenance for Your Car

Benefits of Preventative Maintenance for Your Car

  • Preventative maintenance saves considerable amount of money as you can avoid expensive car repairs occurring from mere neglect.
  • Taking good care of your vehicle gives you peace of mind as you know you and your family are safe while travelling.
  • Proper care increases the dependability of the vehicle.
  • Healthy emission system makes you contribute towards a cleaner environment.
  • A well maintained vehicle is of more value when you plan to sell it off.

Car repair and maintenance

Car repair and maintenance are very essential and must not be taken for granted. By adhering to preventative measures you are able to conserve a lot of time, effort and money and get the most out of driving.

car repairs petrol brakes

Car Repairs: Up, Down, Stop!

We’ve found three great UK stories for you that look at car repairs, car brakes, petrol prices and in-car technology. Enjoy!


Remember earlier this year when petrol prices dipped under £1? It was a far cry from back in 2012 when the average price of a litre of petrol was £1.35 and diesel was £1.42. High fuel costs have had a considerable knock-on effect over the last few years, in that people have been forced to drop their annual mileage. Now, a drop in fuel prices means that mileage is back up, people have a bit more disposable income, and we can engage in a bit more consumer spending, which is beneficial to our economy.

Sadly, the same can’t be said of national average prices for car repairs, maintenance costs and insurance premiums. Over the last five years, national costs for car repairs have gone up by 10% on average, and 38% in the last decade. It’s not just car repairs that have risen, in fact, the price of car insurance has gone up, the price of new cars has gone up and the living wage has gone up.

If you want to keep up the quality of car repairs and maintain a consistency for your car in a world of ups and downs, call In Town Automotive on 01604 666700.


It’s not all rising fees and costs, as this next story will explain. It is becoming widely known that cars with ‘smart’ features offer more safety, more security, automated parking, rear view mirror cameras, crash-avoidance systems and stop-start engines. These are just a few of the innovations will you find in a smart car, and the knock-on effect they are having is that insurance companies are lowering their premiums for the owners.

As 75% of collisions occur at city driving speeds, of 20-30mph, autonomous braking systems and crash-avoidance technologies automatically detect when there will be a crash and are most effective at these speeds. Cars fitted with these systems had 38% fewer rear-end crashes last year, and as a result, the insurance premium will be going down. Fewer car repairs will be needed to fix damaged vehicles, which could be an indicator as to why some garages have increased their prices. We are not one of them, we have consistent pricing for your benefit!

When you consider that a quarter of all claims are as a result of parking or low-speed manoeuvring, it can be easily understood why cars with an automated parking system now demand a lower insurance premium.


The European body for testing car safety, NCAP, has announced that new car functions, such as ‘autonomous emergency braking’ and ‘pedestrian detection systems’ will be included in the next safety tests. This is great news for people who own and drive these cars, as a successful performance in testing means that the car’s safety rating will improve, leading to a drop in insurance premiums.

NCAP has already tested the Toyota Prius and remarkably awarded it a 5-star rating for its ‘Toyota Safety Sense’ technology. If the car senses a collision, it will automatically brake. The second car tested was the Suzuki Baleno, which was awarded a three-star rating, although when fitted with the optional ‘Radar Brake Support’ system, it is awarded 4 stars!

The new testing system allows for cars to be given two separate ratings, as has been done with the Baleno above. One rating is given for the base model, and a separate rating is given for the higher spec version, although it does seem a little bit awful that cars should be sold without all of the safety features available.