Car brakes are not effective (increased stopping distance)

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Braking time varies based on a number of factors, like vehicle weight, road conditions, speed and more, but drivers can usually estimate the amount of time needed for their car. If it seems to be taking longer than normal to stop, there may be a problem with the system.

How this system works:

Your brake system works on a relatively simple principle, although it requires a significant number of components in order to do its job. Fluid pressure and friction are the two primary factors here. Fluid pressure is created by the brake booster and master cylinder.

Pressurized brake fluid is sent through your brake lines to the caliper, which squeezes the rotor between two brake pads – an inner pad and an outer pad. This creates friction. The material used in brake pad manufacturer is specially designed to withstand the high heat and pressure created.

However, pads and rotors wear out over time. Additionally, significant heat can create problems like “brake fade”, which can result in longer stopping distances.

Common reasons for this to happen:

  • Worn Brake Pads: The most common cause of a car taking longer than normal to stop is simple brake wear. If it has been some time since your pads were changed, it might be a wise decision to have that done now.
  • Brake Fade: Brake fade is noticeable in many situations, but the best example is driving down a curving road that’s descending. You’re generally forced to keep your foot on the pedal and “ride” your brakes. This creates immense amounts of heat that affect the pads and rotors, resulting in reduced braking performance and longer stopping times. Brake fade is generally a temporary condition. When the pads and rotors cool, they should be back to almost normal.
  • Low Fluid Level: Your brakes work on hydraulic pressure. This means that fluid is required for them to operate. If the fluid is low, you’ll notice that it takes you longer to stop than normal. If the fluid level gets too low, the brakes won’t work at all.
  • Stuck Caliper: In order for your brakes to slow and stop your car normally, both front calipers need to be in good working condition. If your car takes longer than normal to stop, it could mean that one of the calipers is seized or not sliding on the slide pins correctly.

How important is this service?

If your car is taking longer to stop than usual, it’s not a good sign. While it might be temporary brake fade due to high heat and riding your brakes, it may be a sign of a deeper problem. You should have your brakes regularly inspected during all basic maintenance (such as oil changes) and keep an eye on the condition of the system.