How to Improve Braking?

The performance of the braking system of a vehicle, be it a turbo-charged one or otherwise depends on the effective maintenance of its components.  The most basic thing a person needs to understand when maintaining the braking capacity of his vehicle is that friction is what causes the car to slow down and eventually stop.  The components of the braking system, which are responsible for actually causing friction and in effect stopping the car, are the car’s brake pads.  In this aspect, the most basic measure to make sure that your car is able to effectively stop when it needs to is to regularly check its break pads.

A braking system depends on friction, leverage, and hydraulics to function accordingly.  Consider the fact that when you’re driving your car it is your foot which steps on the break pedal which causes the car to stop.  One might wonder how that small amount of force is able to stop something as massive as car.  The answer lies on the fact that the pedal assembly is actually a lever with its fulcrum attached to a small piston.  The upper end of this lever is fixed and is approximately only 1/4 as far from the point of leverage compared to the other end, which is the foot pedal.  This relationship is responsible for amplifying the force applied by your foot on the pedal by 4x before it is delivered to the pedal cylinder.  The force received by the cylinder produces pressure, which is dispersed to the brake fluid behind it.  This same pressure is experienced by the brake cylinder, which then pushes the break pads against the rotor forcing it to stop.  Hydraulics is what is responsible for the equal dispersion of pressure, and friction is responsible for slowing down the motion of the rotor.

In some cases the break pads may be visible from outside the wheel.  In other cases, the wheel needs to be pulled out in order to check the break pads.  You’ll know when you need to replace the break when they start to become thinner than one fourth of an inch.  If you had allowed your break pads to become as thin as an eighth of an inch, then your break pads need replacement immediately.  With break pads this thin, noises between the caliper and the rotor are already noticeable.  Should things reach such a point, damage will have been inflicted on both surfaces in the form of deep grooves.  If this happened the only way to restore the effectiveness of the braking system is to have the rotor and the caliper turned or machined to even out and restore its surface.  In most cases, however, it is more recommended to replace the rotor as a reduction in thickness also means a decline in the gripping power of the break pads.

After the break pads, the next thing to consider is the quality of the brake fluid.  Brake fluid is only effective when it flows enough freely.  The application of force and the generation of heat due to friction cause chemical changes to the oil, and makes it thicker.  By regularly checking the fluid, and replacing it when needed, the functionality of the brake system is also maintained.

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