Give Your Brakes a Break
It’s difficult to appreciate something fully until you lose it. In this case, I’m talking about your brakes. Not too long ago, I was cruising down I-87 towards New York City. I saw that traffic had stopped ahead, so I did what any driver would do: I pressed the brake pedal. Except this time, there was no resistance. The pedal went right to the floor.
Luckily, I managed to weave delicately through stopped traffic and over onto the shoulder. I grabbed my emergency brake and came to a stop. Though a little shaken, I walked away from that incident with only a broken passenger side mirror.
Your Brakes Have Needs
If you imagine jumping in front of your car and pushing against it whenever you want to slow down, the work that your brakes do becomes pretty impressive. Brakes, like your vehicle’s other components, need to be serviced regularly to maintain their integrity and, just as importantly, your safety. Most manufacturers provide a maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. Check it to see when you should be getting your brakes looked at. If you’re a little tougher on the pedal, it might be a good idea to do it more often.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s a Problem
I got my first taste of brake problems while driving through the Rockies a few summers back. I was traveling in my trusted minivan. Though it had close to 300,000 miles on the odometer, it could handle anything. Or so I thought.
Going up wasn’t a problem. The engine had more than enough torque to handle an uphill climb just fine. Coming down was another issue, though.
As we snaked our way downward, an acrid smell hit my nose. It kept getting worse and worse the farther we went. I didn’t make the connection until I saw black smoke coming from my wheels.
We stopped to look. It was my brake pads. I couldn’t remember the last time they’d been serviced. I slapped myself, knowing that I should have had the engine in a lower gear to add more resistance and take pressure off of the brakes.
Any kind of smell or strange noise coming from your brakes should be checked out immediately. If you notice any fluid leaking, that’s also a big red flag. It might be brake fluid, which could lead to pressure loss and brake failure. Even if it’s not, you’ll still be nipping a potential disaster. It’s important never to wait to long when it comes to your brakes.