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Head Gasket Reassembly

Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket Part III: Head Gasket Reassembly

Do not think that opening the engine and fixing the head gasket is the end of the process. The other equally important part is to reassemble all the components that have been taken out during the process.

Step 1

Step 1 HGR

‘Spray the cylinder head gasket with a sealer’

Before you place the cylinder head gasket on top of the clean engine block you should spray both sides of the cylinder head gasket with a sealer. Also the studs should be installed before the gasket is fitted that is if studs have been used to hold the cylinder head down. Alignment dowels are often used with the studs to ensure that the gasket remains immobile while the cylinder head is being placed on top of it.

Remember: After installing a new cylinder head gasket, if you wish to make sure that the seal has been applied in a sturdy manner then you can make use of copper sealant sprays that are sold by many vendors. If you avoid the common maintenance mistakes you should be able to prevent problems from turning up in this corner of the automobile.

Step 2

‘Installing the cylinder head’

Once the surfaces have been cleaned and the gasket has been put in its rightful place you should install the cylinder head and fasten it down.

Remember: All information regarding the tightening sequence, the fastener torque and frequency of servicing can be found in the service manual. There is a particular pattern that needs to be followed during the reassembly, which is quite similar to the process of taking out components. It is also important to make sure that there is very little stress placed on the components and this can be achieved by ensuring that the sealing process is completed with absolute accuracy. You may also need several passes of increasing torque measurements in some cases. Use a calibrated torque wrench and stick to the procedure described in this blog.

Step 3

Step 3 HGR

‘Replace components that were removed in earlier steps’

You should have used notes and pictures to keep track of the components that were removed. When all components have been put back in their place take a brief look at the fasteners, components and assembly.

Remember: If any seal was disrupted during the dismantling process then it should be replaced and all the mating surfaces should be cleaned along with threads of bolt holes and grimy bolts. There are also some components that do not need sealing but require a gasket maker or silicone paste which is easily available at a local auto-parts store.

Step 4

‘Connect the battery and refill the fluids’

Before connecting the battery you should reassess all the work done. You should then proceed to fix the positive cable first and then the negative cable

Once you are assured that you have done the reassembly exactly how it should be you can refill the engine with oil. You shouldn’t forget to use a new filter and check the oil level in the engine.

Do not forget to fill the radiator with coolant oil to its optimum level and then wait. If you see some bubbling then it could be due to trapped air in the cooling system. Before starting the engine the cooling system has to be bled. If you want to make the air travel to the overflow tank or the highest point in the system then you should lift the front section of the vehicle. It is also advisable to check your coolant levels and make sure they are at optimum levels.

Caution: Installing the cables in reverse order can cause sparks and it can ignite any flammable liquid in the vicinity.

Step 5

‘Check for Faults’

This is the time to get into the car and turn on the engine. Do not start the vehicle at this point. If you have a code reader then now is the time you should attach it. If a component hasn’t been plugged in, the code will be fixed instantly. If a component has been left unplugged then you can trace it easily with the help of a code that may pop up at this time. Keep your ears alert at this point and use this guide to know what the noise could mean.

Step 6

Step 6 HGR

‘Set climate control’

At this point, you should start the vehicle and set the climate control to maximum heat. This makes the coolant enter the heater core and gives it the chance to get rid of any stubborn air bubbles inside the cooling system.

Remember: You should let the engine remain in idle state and allow it to match up to the temperature slowly instead of racing the engine. After the process is complete you should open the hood from time to time to ensure that there are no leaks or smoke coming out of the engine. You should also check the readings on the instrument cluster at regular intervals.

Dangers of DIY

Just like the information given above, there are many car websites on the internet that make this job sound easier than what it really is. Preferably you should leave such a complicated task to the experts as they know very well how to go about it.

For the sake of saving some money you should not risk trying a job of this big magnitude. There are several tests that need to be conducted before and after installing the head gasket and skilled technicians are well acquainted with these tests.

One needs to be completely sure that the head gasket needs replacement because once started it is quite difficult to get things back to the original state if you cannot handle the job well. Some people come to this conclusion that the head gasket needs to be replaced simply because the engine is getting overheated and white smoke is being emitted from the exhaust. However there are many other issues that can cause similar symptoms.

Therefore a series of tests is recommended to ascertain that the head gasket needs a replacement. If you replace the head gasket when there was no need to do it you not only waste a lot of money but also risk causing some damage to the engine. Moreover, repairing or replacing the gasket on your own can cause warping on cylinder and engine heads and if left untreated can lead to total engine failure shortly after repair.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you take your vehicle to a reputed garage in your neighbourhood and let them test and solve the problems that you have been facing with your ride.

Dismantle the Engine

Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket Part II: How to Dismantle the Engine

Once you have all the essentials and the manuals in place you can start the process of dismantling the engine of your car. Remember, it is best to seek professional help as this procedure involves many complexities and skipping of even the smallest of steps can land you in a mine of trouble.  Additionally, to avoid hefty car repair costs, employ these car hacks to make your life easier.

Seek professional help from In Town Automotive’s car technicians for a successful and safe replacement of faulty head gaskets.

Engine 1

To complete the project yourself, read along to know more!

Step 1 of Part 2 – Disengage the battery

It is of very important that you disengage the car batteries whilst performing chief repairs like replacing car head gasket as it is very easy to accidentally activate the starter assembly on some vehicles.

Note: Do not forget to detach the negative or black cable on the battery first.

Word of Caution: Loose-fitting wire connections have the imminent risk of short circuits and can damage very sensitive and costly equipment or emit fire-inducing sparks. This is extremely dangerous so ensure that you disconnect the battery before you do anything else.

Step 2 of Part 2 – Drain engine oil and engine coolant

Engine Fluid

Make sure that you drain out the engine oil and engine oil drain port completely.

Position the drip pan below the engine to collect the old oil and open the oil drain plug. This way, if the engine coolant trickles on top of the crankcase, it will flow out instead of settling in the engine.

Note: Remember to get rid of the old engine oil in the oil pan so that you do not add new oil on top or else you will have to mend the entire engine assembly right from the start.

Drain the coolant from the radiator drain port or by removing or unfastening the lower radiator hose. Ensure that you remove the cap of the radiator.

Tip: In some cases, the lower intake manifold or the cylinder head will have a coolant drain port of its own.


Step 3 of Part 2 – Eliminate all the components from the cylinder head

All the elements attached to the cylinder head have to be eliminated.

  • You may lose track of things as several nuts, clamps, bolts, sleeves and fittings entail the completion of this step and it is very likely hat you may lose track of things. Try clicking pictures or pen down a description of each part to help you remember where everything goes once all the elements are ready to reassemble the engine.
  • Bag and put a label on everything. It will rather be a good idea for you to keep some components and their respective fasteners in the same bag. One part may have fasteners that are of varying lengths. Mark these as these would go back exactly where they came from to keep any kind of engine problems and damage at bay.
  • A number of bolts involved in the tear down are known as “torque to yield”. These are usually stretched upon installation and will require replacing once they are taken out. Keep an eye on these bolts and remember to switch them with new ones.

Word of Caution: In case of being reused, the ‘torque to yield’ fasteners have very good chances of breaking off into the engine block or cylinder head. The broken parts will have to be hooked out and if the hole is damaged, it needs to be repaired.

Step 4 of Part 2 – Take out the fasteners in sequence


Quite a lot of car parts such as the cylinder head, valve cover, exhaust manifolds, and intake require the elimination of the fasteners in a certain sequence to avoid warping and cracking. This information is usually explained in detail in the vehicle service manual.

Some vehicles are provided with overhead camshafts which may either be dual overhead camshaft DOHC) or single overhead camshafts (SOHC). This essentially means that the camshafts are located in the cylinder head. With these types of engines, the crankshaft and camshaft may be connected with a timing belt or chain.

Note: The timing belt or timing chain assembly needs the following of a set of procedures for being taken out in order to shield the internal elements of the engine. Pay keen attention to the procedures and timing marks as these are vital to the functioning of the engine. The assembly may suffer quite a bit as a result of significant damage if mistakes are committed.

Some vehicles may have an exceptional engine design referred to as the overhead valve (OHV). Many OHV engine designs have the camshaft housed within the engine block and make use of pushrods, rocker arms and lifters in order to set off the valves in the cylinder head.

Generally, the engine timing elements were kept out from the removal of the cylinder head, but if these parts are removed; they have to be fitted in exactly the same order.

Note: Different types of engine designs employ different lengths of pushrods for the intake and exhaust valves. If these elements are mixed up in any manner, engine damage is quite probable.

Several timing belt kits come with a marked belt for easy installation. The markings on the belt may differ for every type of timing belt kit and will be perfectly aligned with the markings on the components of the engine.

The cylinder head gasket or seal lies under the cylinder head assembly. The material used for this can either be metal or any material that can get crushed after the installation of cylinder head bolts and torque. From time to time, both materials are used in the production of the cylinder head gasket.

This gasket must be capable of resisting pressures and temperatures of combustion. Frequently you may look for breaks amidst two cylinders or a break an oil or coolant port seal has cracked open.

In case you have to undertake the repair and replacement of head gasket on an urgent basis, you can take advantage of In Town Automotive’s finance option.

Get in touch with us today to know more!

Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket

Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket Part I


One of the most vital parts of any vehicle’s engine is the head gasket. It seals the head of the cylinder which houses the valves of the engine to the engine block which has pistons and crankshafts inside.

The leaks in the head gasket can range in severity. Negligible leaks can simply make the engine guzzle extra oil or coolant. Severe leaks can lead to the mixing of coolant and oil which causes loss of lubrication in the crankcase or absolute loss of compression which leads to relentless issues with drivability.  A car that runs poorly without an obvious explanation is likely to have a blown head gasket and should be checked thoroughly for the problem. There are few symptoms that point towards a blown head gasket. Any car showing signs of these symptoms should be put through a compression test to check the reliability of the head gasket.

The head gasket of a car is a simple piece of metal that is enveloped in a rubber-like material and yet its malfunction is one of the most disabling ailments that an engine can face. To understand why this is a matter of concern, you first need to understand the vital role your head gasket plays in your engine’s health along with understanding the various car engine problems.

What is a head gasket?

The cylinder head gasket is the seal located between the engine block and cylinder head assembly. An in-line engine design contains one cylinder head as this is arranged directly along the engine block.

A “V” shaped engine design for instance, the V6 or V8 comprises of two cylinder-heads one for each bank.  A V6 engine has 3 cylinders located on each bank.

Note: An extensive amount of labour is involved with the repair of the cylinder head gasket even if the displacement engine is smaller in size.

Get a professional to establish if cylinder head gasket repair is required or not with the help of official testing. This repair is intensive in nature and cannot be simply done for any reason at all. At times, it can end up doing much harm than good if not done properly.

Word of Caution: Ensure that you always employ safety measures while working on your car to prevent any injury or hazard. Put on the recommended safety gear including gloves and safety glasses while handling engine oil, coolant and other components of the vehicle.

Getting to the Task of Replacing a Faulty Head Gasket


Before arriving on the conclusion that the task of replacing the gasket is the job best left to experienced professionals, you can make an effort to understand the reason why it is difficult to replace the head gasket on your own. This process requires major level of engine dismantling before you even get to touch and properly see a broken or a leaking gasket. Before you start working on the broken gasket, ensure that the cooling system is drained completely.

Next step is to ensure that the intake and exhaust manifolds employed in the system are completely removed. Follow this by taking out the timing cover, timing belt and timing chain one after another. The valve cover that wraps the engine valve should be taken out next. It is only when you remove the head of the cylinder completely, you will be able to see the head gasket. Give your car a complete once over in order to trace other car engine troubles.

If you intend to put your mind to perform a head gasket repair and replacement entirely by yourself, you have will have to carry out the steps mentioned above in reverse order after the gasket is fitted. Needless to say, this is going to take up a considerable amount of time and missing out on fixing any of the components can turn out to be an absolute disaster. Additionally, you will have to use studs for the engine to ensure torque functionality.  There’s a pretty good chances that the studs may have expanded already due to earlier torque and thus should be discarded completely.

While the job has heavyset technicalities attached to it, it is recommended that head gasket repair and replacement shouldn’t be taken up as a DIY project. This job needs a proficient technician like In Town Automotive considering the series of tests required before and after replacing the gasket. Overheating of the engine and white smoke emanating from the exhaust are basic blown head gasket symptoms. One cannot simply determine if the gasket needs to be replaced by just glancing at these symptoms because other issues with the car can also be responsible.

But, if you are going to execute the replacing of the head gasket on your own, you might as well do it properly employing each step with absolute care.

Given below is the A-Z guide that will be your gospel to analyse and replace faulty head gasket of your vehicle.

Part 1 – Collect Information and Supplies

Before you embark on the project, here is a list of materials you will require:

  • Cylinder head gasket kit
  • Engine oil
  • Engine oil filter
  • Spark plugs
  • Safety glasses
  • Torque wrenches (⅜” and ½” )
  • Code reader (optional)
  • Cylinder for old engine oil and coolant
  • Drip pans
  • Engine thermostat
  • Gloves
  • Tool set for mechanics with multiple socket and wrench combinations
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Vehicle service manual
  • Timing belt set which is specific to your vehicle
  • Intake manifold gasket kit
  • Exhaust manifold gasket set

Step 1 of Part 1 – Locate the VIN

vin number

Gather information related to vehicle which is both specific and applicable to your vehicle. This is to make your hunt for the car components more simplified.

Your vehicle comes with two very important stickers. You will get information regarding the size of your engine with the help of the emissions sticker under the hood. The label inside the door jamb of the driver’s seat will show the vehicle identification number or VIN.

Step 2 of Part 1 – Find a vehicle service manual for your car

Knowing the size of the engine is integral as a number of engine designs vary and the components differ from one another.

Tip: The service manual of a vehicle is usually much more detailed than the vehicle owner’s manual. The service manual will contain of essential information and will also comprise of simple repair and car servicing procedures.

You will be able to locate this easily at several auto parts store and online vendors. If you do not find a service manual for your vehicle on the shelf, request an associate about placing an order for one. They are fairly cheap and the information it holds is very useful.

The service manual mentions the special tools that will be required for repairs and will state which car parts to leave out while the repair process is on. It may be mandatory to supervise the procedure a couple of times before you start with it yourself.  It is best to get acquainted with the work you are going to perform before you begin dismantling your car’s engine.

Tip: When trying to locate a cylinder head gasket, try purchasing a complete one that consists of many different seals. Even if these kits have seals that you might not really need or has duplicates, it is always better to have a seal when you really need one instead of not having any at all.


When any car component is taken out, any related seals will have to be switched so as to eliminate the likelihood of potential leaks at the time of engine reassembling. Once the seals are replaced, it is important that you apply fasteners for each component at the required torque arrangements.

Contact us today to find out more about replacing head gasket. While you are at it, check out other services that we offer.

Identifying Most Common Car Engine Problems

The inevitable part of car ownership irrespective of the age, make, mileage or model is occasional engine problems. Engine failure is never good news as it has the potential to put your car out of commission for an indefinite amount of time. It is very tricky to diagnose and the repair work involved can be complicated. While regular car servicing and maintenance may help reduce the need of car repairs, it does not guarantee that a car will not break down.

As the car amasses more miles, the likelihood of engine troubles also increases. However, not all engine issues will be so serious. The majority of the time the cause is something very simple, for instance – a dirty air filter. Whether the engine of your car is facing overheating issue or is emanating strange noises or misfiring, the reason could be arising from a multitude of issues.

How The Engine of Your Car Works?

How The Engine of Your Car Works

  • The blinking ‘check engine’ light can make any driver anxious. It could indicate anything from blockage, which is generally quick to diagnose, to the need for a major repair that is going to burn a big hole in your pocket.
  • The engine works from the inside of your car and that’s why its referred to as the internal combustion engine. The engine’s core job is to convert gasoline into energy which helps your car propel forward. In case of hybrid cars, the source of energy is different but that does not make the outcome any different. The same is applicable to diesel engines. It’s the universal truth that everyone swears by – without a working engine, your car is nothing but a useless and heavy heap of metal.

Getting To The Bottom of the Problem

Getting To The Bottom of the Problem

Consider the ‘check engine’ light not as the final nail in the coffin but rather as a sign that some component needs to be fixed. At In Town, our expert vehicular technicians commonly come across one of the following issues.

  • Inadequate Lubrication The moving parts of your vehicle need oil as this will not only reduce friction but will also eliminate heat. Therefore, getting a regular oil change is essential to the overall functioning of a vehicle. If proper lubrication isn’t ensured, it can result in overheating of the car and its component are likely to seize up. So, it is best to maintain the oil at an appropriate level as low levels can indicate burning or leakage.
  • Oil Pump Failure – Failure of the oil pump can result in what’s commonly known as oil starvation which is almost always lethal to any engine. Overhead cam engines are more at risk as the cam and the valve train are situated beyond the pump which means that it needs to be light enough to move quickly.
  • Dirty Oil – The build-up of oil tends to leave behind deposits on spark plugs, combustion chambers and intake valves. It can disintegrate a car’s bearings by leaving behind debris which embed in the surface. In case you come across a clogged oil filter, this is certainly the root of the problem.
  • Spark Knock – The type of combustion caused by the accumulation of too much heat and pressure in the engine’s combustion chamber is what is known as a spark knock or detonation. When this happens, you should be able to hear a metallic knocking or pinging noise. A small detonation will generally not cause major damage, but heavy knocks or prolonged detonation can pave way for serious damage to the car components. It has the potential to punch holes in your pistons, blow head gaskets, crush rod bearings, crack rings and pound piston ring grooves. Pinging noise at a stretch are a definite cause of concern.
  • Broken or Defective Oxygen Sensor – The sensor is entitled to measure the amount of oxygen that hasn’t been consumed by the exhaust. It then communicates to the data system of the car regarding the amount of fuel available in the gas tank. Any problem with the oxygen sensor means communication of incorrect information by the car’s system. This often results in lower gas mileage.
  • Poor Compression The combustion process of the car’s engine will be interrupted if the fuel and air aren’t compressed properly. If the valves fail to seal properly, the cylinder of your vehicle has a hole in it or probably the piston rings are worn which results in leakage of air which results in lack of compression.
  • Loss of Coolant – The most common cause for overheating is through loss of coolant. A quick glance on the coolant overflow reservoir will indicate if the coolant is leaking or not. If your engine repeatedly overheats, the constant high temperature can result in irreparable damage that can be troublesome to fix. Most cars are now equipped with temperature gauges or warning lights that will notify the driver of the overheating issue. Repeated overheating can potentially cause serious, not to mention expensive damage to the engine. Being cautious beforehand is the best option so make sure that you avoid this kind of damage by ensuring that the coolant is clean and the cooling system is in good operating condition. Additionally, overheating can be caused as a result of a cracked head or a blown gasket. Coolant loss and white exhaust smoke may indicate the dire need of getting your car engine repaired.

Common reasons for overheating are:

  • Defective radiator cap
  • Non-functioning cooling fan
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Dirty air filter
  • Low or dirty coolant level
  • Kinked or broken down radiator hose
  • Internal or external coolant leak
  • Clogged Radiator – Dirty coolant is a source of multiple problems. If the radiator fills with sediment from a dirty coolant, it will lead to overheating of the engine. There is also a possibility of the radiator becoming corroded if hard water is used.
  • Worn Spark Plug – Although a spark plug is small, it is one of the most important components that make a car move. A worn spark plug will give out a weak spark. It may event prevent ignition entirely or cause ignition at the wrong time. A misfire will affect the power of the engine and fuel economy and thus result in massive amounts of potential damage.
  • Loose or Missing Gas Cap – One of the cheapest and easiest fixes your car will ever need over the course of its lifetime is the tightening or replacing of the gas cap. However, it is also an important one. A gas cap that is either loose or missing will result in evaporation of the gas from the car, reducing its gas mileage and potentially costing you hundreds of pounds.

Regular maintenance might seem costly but it is also important to keep your car in good working condition. If you want to make the most of your vehicle, ensure that you keep up with regular oil, tyre, clutch repairs and other maintenance that may crop up. Be sure to address any issue as and when they crop up.

Car Engine Study – How Reliable Are The Engines Of Your Car

Everyone is well aware of the most popular cars on roads today. It will be impossible for you to step out of your house without spotting a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Corsa. As engines are at the core of a vehicle’s performance, we have to take a sneak a peek on cars that have the most reliable engines.

The Situation

The Situation

The engine is arguably the most vital component of any car and also the most expensive part to replace. Hundreds of requests for second-hand car engines is received by garages on a weekly basis. Upon closely analysing these requests it can be deduced which cars on the country’s roads have the most trustworthy and reliable engines, under the premises that the more reliable the car’s engine is, the fewer requests will be received for a replacement.

How Did We Work It Out?

By analysing a data set covering a certain period, the most frequently requested engines in the UK were perused with special emphasis on the make and model of the vehicle.

By simply looking at the number of requests received for each make and model’s engines does not give an accurate estimation of the whole picture. It involved a lot of work wherein a number of requests had to be compared against the number of cars to find out the genuine reliability rating. For example, if there are a million cars of the same type on the road and a thousand requests pertaining to the car’s engine are received, it can be said to be more reliable than a make and model that receives two requests, but only has a hundred vehicles on the road.

Final Analysis

A number of positive assumptions can be made about the cars that are rated most efficient. These vehicles may have the most lucrative engines making it possible for the vehicle to run for several years. It is a fact that cars with computerized engines and high-performance systems are more likely to need dealer assistance and a completely new unit. It is really important to ensure that your car is road worthy and thus going for regular MOT is suggested.

The hunt for the best and most reliable car engine reveals that only a fraction of a percentage of all cars require replacement engine and that there is enough supply in the market to cope up with the demand for second hand car engines, which helps keep the motoring prices down, making car repairs more available for anyone on a budget. Speaking of budget, In Town Automotive has finance options available for unexpected car repairs that cannot be delayed.

Diligently following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is vital for proper car maintenance. Regular services such as oil changes, fuel and oil filter replacement and tune ups are necessary to keep the car’s performance at its peak. Maintenance components such as the air filter are frequently overlooked but can have considerable impact on a car’s drivability and overall performance. Irrespective of the car’s age, proper upkeep and maintenance will help keep potential engine problems and breakdowns at bay.

Auto Repair Service From In Town Automotive

Auto Repair Service From In Town Automotive

There could be numerous explanations for all these issues but the solution is the same for all of them. You have to schedule an appointment with repair specialists for diagnostic and maintenance services. When it comes to car repair, you can recieve comprehensive solutions from In Town Automotive at prices that you can afford.

Get in touch with us today and our experts will be happy to help you figure out the appropriate steps. At In Town Automotive we promise to provide the care and attention your car needs to get back on the track.

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.