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As winter approaches and the weather changes, there are more potential hazards for motorists such as wetter roads and fallen leaves making surfaces slippery.

It’s always essential to make sure your brakes are in good condition and never more so than at this time of the year. You could experience obvious signs that your brakes need some attention as your brake light may appear on the dashboard, or you feel your car is taking longer to stop than it ought to.

If you experience either of these, then take your car to a local mechanic for a quick check as soon as possible. There are also other things you should look out for that could indicate wear and tear of your braking system.

Listen for noises

A signal that your brakes may need servicing can come from an indicator in the braking system that gives off a high-pitched noise if your pads need replacing. You should also listen out for any harsh grinding sounds.

If you hear a grinding noise, it could mean that you’ve gone through your brake pads and when you apply the brakes the metal of the calipers is grinding against the metal of your rotors. This needs immediate attention as rotor resurfacing or replacement is costly compared to simply replacing your brake pads.

Check for worn brake pads

Depending on the design of your car, you may be able to check the thickness of your brake pads by looking between the spokes of your wheel to see if you can spot the shiny metal rotor inside. Around the outer edge of the roter is the metal caliper and between the two is the brake pad. As a rule of thumb, your brake pads should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. If they’re thinner, then you should get them replaced.

On some cars, you’ll need to remove the tires to see the rotor and pads. When checking your brake pads, you should also look at the roter, which should be fairly smooth. If the roter has any deep grooves or pits, it’s advisable to change that too.

Don’t forget to test your handbrake

As well as your foot brakes, you should also ensure your handbrake is in good working order. To test, release your handbrake and then reapply it. Remove your foot from the foot brake. Your car should remain stationary and your handbrake not move too far upwards.

If the car starts to roll or the handbrake is at an angle of more than 70% you should get your local garage to take a look at it.

Brakes: what’s covered in an MOT

According to Halfords, 9.6% of MOT failures are attributable to brake issues.

During an MOT inspection, an engineer will look at the overall condition of the brakes, pedals and levers. The efficiency of the car's braking performance and operation will also be checked; most cars are tested on a roller brake tester.

Any relevant warning lights will also be looked at during the inspection.

Would you like the brakes on your car inspected?

If you’d like to get your brakes checked, Foster & Heanes offers car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles including classic and vintage cars. We can arrange free collection and delivery if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres.

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