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Most folks are pretty good at taking care of their vehicles. With the cost of upkeep and gasoline we want to make ensure that our cars start and run every time we get in.

But when was the last time you had your brakes checked out to make sure they were running ok? It’s important that your brakes are in working order. There are a few things you can take care of yourself as far as maintenance and visual inspection, but unless you are a pro, make sure you get an experienced professional to take a look.

Tire pressure also plays an important part in your vehicle’s ability to stop in time. Yes I know we started talking about brakes but if you have under inflated or over inflated tires. Too much pressure in your tires will cause them to bulge and you won’t be riding across the entire width of the tire, the way it was designed, and this will increase your stopping distance. Also under inflated tires will wear on the outer ribs and this will decrease your traction, which in turn lends itself to longer stopping distances. So keep your tires properly inflated. Buy a quality tire gauge, don’t go by the pressure gauge at the gas station as these are notoriously inaccurate. A good rule of thumb is to check your tire pressure is once a week, or if there is a noticeable change in temperature. You need to check the spare tire too.

Next make sure you check the brake fluid. Before removing the cap to your brake fluid reservoir, wipe the cap down, or else dirt could get mixed in with the fluid. Once you have determined the level and need to add some make sure you use DOT (Department of Transportation) 3 or 4. If the reservoir has two parts make sure you fill them both. While you have the hood open take a look for any leaks or cracked hoses. If needed get your car to your mechanic or dealer right away. Don’t let a small issue become a big headache.

The parts which make up the brakes themselves, rotors, pads, discs are pretty straightforward. Any visible physical damage is a sign that you need replacement parts. If you have less than 1/8 inch on your pads it is time to replace them. If your discs aren’t shiny or have deep grooves they may need replacing but they may also just need to be turned. Ask your mechanic if you aren’t sure. Slight lines in the disc are normal, but large grooves are not. Also make sure the hoses leading to your brake calipers are inspected as well and make sure there aren’t any cracks or leaks.

Keeping your car in top running condition can not only help maintain it’s value, but it will also help insure your safety while on the road. Brakes need to be inspected at least twice annually. Write it down on a calendar so you can remember it. Or the old stand by of spring forward fall back and check your breaks when you reset your clock for daylight savings time

Written by Jacqueline Star: Dallas Ford Dealers, Used Car Dealer Dallas

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Filed under: Brakes

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