AAA Encourages Drivers to Have Brakes Inspected Before Roads Turn Slick

Oct 21, 2010, 09:21 ET from AAA

In recognition of October as AAA Car Care Month, the nation's largest motor club reminds motorists brakes are key to safe driving—especially during inclement weather

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Good brakes are crucial to keeping a vehicle under control when driving—especially on snow- or ice-covered roads. In recognition of October as AAA Car Care Month, AAA encourages motorists to have a certified technician inspect their brakes to ensure they are ready for any slick roads Old Man Winter might throw at them in the coming months.

"Brake components that are badly worn, or a brake system in need of hydraulic fluid, may not provide the level of control needed for safe winter driving," said John Nielsen, director, AAA Auto Repair and Buying Services. "Slick roads can magnify brake system problems, so it's important to have brakes inspected annually by a qualified technician. There's no better time to do that than before winter weather arrives."

Warning Signs

Often the first sign of worn brakes is a brake pedal that seems to require more pressure to stop the vehicle. Scraping, squeaking or chirping noises that come from the wheels when the brakes are applied are other signs of potentially excessive brake wear. A car that pulls to the left or right when the brakes are applied also could mean trouble.

Motorists should not wait until the brake warning light in their vehicle illuminates to have their brakes inspected.

Brake for Careful Inspection, Maintenance

Because brakes cannot be thoroughly inspected without removing the wheels, motorists should specifically ask for an annual brake inspection when taking their vehicle into an auto repair shop for service. The braking components that a certified technician should inspect include:

Master Cylinder – The brake fluid reservoir should be checked periodically to ensure proper fluid levels.

Brake Lines – Steel brake tubing running from the master cylinder to all four wheels should be inspected for leaks caused by damage or rust.

Brake Hoses – Rubber brake hoses running from the brake lines to the brake calipers and wheel cylinders should be inspected for wearing or cracking.

Lining and Pads – Brake components that create friction and dissipate heat should be checked for uneven or excessive wear. Glazing or contamination from leaking brake fluid or grease seals are other potential problems.

Parking Brake –The parking brake operation should be checked and adjusted if necessary.

Having the brake fluid flushed is an important maintenance item that many drivers overlook. Brake fluid absorbs water that collects at low points in the hydraulic system where it can cause rust, fluid leaks and, if not prevented, brake failure. On vehicles with antilock brakes, moisture in the brake fluid also can damage expensive electro-hydraulic control units. For this reason, most manufacturers recommend that the brake system be flushed and new fluid installed every two to three years. Check the owner's manual for the recommended service interval.

For motorists seeking an auto repair facility to inspect or repair their car's brakes, AAA can help. AAA Approved Auto Repair is a free public service that helps consumers find quality, reliable auto repair facilities. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, service equipment, warranties and cleanliness. There are nearly 8000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America and nearby locations can be quickly located at AAA.com/repair.

Save Your Brakes, and Money, with Good Driving Habits

The same friction that brakes use to stop a vehicle causes brake components to wear out and need replacement. However, good driving habits can make brakes last longer and reduce repair expenses.

When stopping, slow the vehicle gradually instead of suddenly. It's also a good idea not to "ride" the brakes on steep hills. Downshifting can help slow the car and limit the amount of braking that is needed.

Brush up on Winter Braking Techniques

Before winter weather gets here, it's important for drivers to brush on the proper braking and steering techniques that can be critical to their safety when driving on ice on snow. AAA's offers a free brochure—How to Go on Ice and Snow—with instructions on proper steering and braking techniques and step-by-step instructions on how to react should your vehicle begin to skid. Check with your local AAA branch office or download it for free from the AAA Exchange.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA news releases, high-resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at AAA.com/news.

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