Have you ever experienced pressing your brake pedal at a crucial driving moment and it simply went down, touching the vehicle floor? It’s better discussed in writing than experiencing it, believe me.
Welcome to another exciting and eye-opening edition of Auto Clinic, served you weekly from Motoring World house, Africa’s total motoring publication. In connection to the alarming opening, I shall tell you a bitter experience I had, when I was about eight.
Having already learnt how to ride a bicycle, I used to pester my uncle to allow me to play with his, which he declined with a reason.
“Don’t touch it, it is not in good order,” he warned, not giving details of the bike’s illness.
On this fateful day, my uncle went to his farm, leaving his bicycle at home.
As against his warning, I dragged it out, checked it all over. All I could see was a good bicycle. Knowing my uncle won’t return until about 6pm, I invited my friend, who also joined with his dad’s bicycle. We rode through a road (not tarred) linking our village to another.
It was sweet experience, as we descended first sloppy road, which assisted us to gather enough speed to climb a longer and hilly section of the road.
At a point, we had to alight, pushing our bikes atop the remaining part of the hill. On reaching the pinnacle, we faced a slop stretching through about one kilometer.
We mounted our bikes, pedaled only once and we sped down the hill. The speed was getting too high, so I applied the brake so as not to lose control or crash dangerously at the bottom of the hill.
Alas, the brakes failed to control the bicycle. My speed increased and increased. I was enveloped with panic. I had to do something, if I must live to tell the tale. My speed, I recon, was already above 40km/hour.
Amidst that uncontrollable high speed, I was left with only one option, steer the bicycle into a thick bush on the right hand side of the slope. I could remember being lifted off the bike, flying freely above bush tongs, twigs and little trees, stopped by a tree branch and landed roughly on a clogged bush below. The bicycle sped further and deeper into the bush.
This is the only aspect I REMEMBER and laugh. Shortly before I decided to steer into the bush, I yelled: “Yeeee. Mo ku oooooo,” meaning: “I am dead!!!!.”
I survived, though not without injuries all over my body, foot, head, arm…
My friend assisted me up, traced my uncle’s bicycle and dragged it out of the bush. It had some damages.
From that point, we gently trekked back home, pushing the two bicycles.
Imagine that experience. Had it been a car, the experience could probably have been worse. Recalling the true story is meant to impact the importance of brakes in the mind of all readers of Auto Clinic.
What Divers Need to Know About Brakes
No driver would wish to know and experience brake failure, as I did with a bicycle at a tender age. Rather, to avoid dangerous experience of brake failure, every motorist needs to understand and master common signs and symptoms of brake problems before the worst happens.
That is a vehicle owner or driver needs to know how to check for possible or imminent brake problems and prevent them.
Car brakes problems could be in form of hoses leakage, squeaky brakes or warped rotors. It could even be won out brake pads. But they are better resolved at symptoms stage.
But what are symptoms for upcoming brake problems?
Handle your car like a loved member of the family. The car will serve you in return. Like a child or even adult, there are usually symptoms pointing to imminent serious problems. Experienced motorists know that brake problem is a deadly one. But, good thing is that the problem shows symptoms ahead as follows:
Dragging: It is not uncommon to sometime start your car and zoom off, forgetting to release the parking brake (hand brake). When that happens, what you experience is inhibited movement or dragging.
So first thing to do, when you experience dragging is to check your parking brake. If it has not been released, simply release it.
But when you check the hand brake and you find out it is on a release position, then something is not right. You are likely to have experienced seized parking brake cable. If you don’t want to end up spending huge money on repair, don’t keep driving it like that, as you may worsen the problem. Take it to a good workshop for release and possible repair. What I mean is a seized parking brake is a symptom of a bigger and serious problem. Prevention, remember, is cheaper than cure.
Oil leak: Like I once mentioned in this clinic, it is wise to periodically inspect your car for symptoms of problems. Never assume. If your brake oil pot is not transparent, always Endeavour to open the lead and check. If the level drops beyond maximum line, top it up, and monitor it. Once you find out it goes down again, take it as a symptom of a serious brake problem. What it means is that you are experiencing a leak somewhere. Top up the brake oil again and do one more check.
How? Try leaving the car parked for minimum of six hours or better still, park it overnight.
After six hours, or before starting the car in the morning, check underneath the car. You are likely to find brake oil stain on the floor. Once you find that, waste no time. Take the car to a trusted auto repair workshop.
Braking Distance Increase/Squealing or Grinding Noise: Whenever you apply your brake and you feel the car covers too much distance before stopping that is a symptom of a problem. Two things could account for that. You might have just driving through a pool of water, while have penetrated and coated your brake pad. To clean the brakes, start the car, drive at bout 25-30km/hour, pressing the brake pedal.
If you did not drive through a pool of water, it could a worn out brake pad, what you experienced then was a symptom of worn out brake pads.
Another sign of a worn out brake pad is when shrieking noise follows every braking attempt. It is worse when the noise you hear is that of metal grinding. What the later indicates is that the brake pad has completely won out and what is left is metal, which grinds on rotor surface. Solution is to get the car brake attended to and as soon as possible replae the worn brake pads.
As usual, this is how we shall end this week’s illumination edition of Auto Clinic, served you from Motoring World International.
And watch out for a concluding part of symptoms of brake problems and solution next week.
And as a reminder, Dear motorists, have you experienced any intractable motoring problem from your automobile? For an explanation, solution or guide, send me an email, indicating the brand, model and manufacturing year of the vehicle. Please give as much explanation as you can about the problem.
And before you leave your home in the morning or embark on any long distance trip, check your tyres, ensuring there is no over-inflation or under-inflation. And also ensure you are not driving on expired tyres.
Be safety conscious.
Mail your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org