I wanted to talk about checking brakes. This is something everyone can do, with almost no tools. The only thing you might need is a flashlight.
Before you get started I need to tell you a few things. This is a basic visual inspection, just a check. If you have an issue with braking, then further inspection will be needed. DO NOT DO THIS AFTER YOU JUST DROVE THE CAR. The brakes get really hot and it burns like hell if you touch hot brakes(trust me). If you have any question about what you are looking at, post it in the comments and I will help you out.
I also want you to know what you are looking at. I am going to have you check 4 main parts. Brake discs(or rotors), Brake pads, Brake lines, and Brake fluid.
Lets start with fluid.
Open the hood. Ususally the brake fluid resivoius is at the back of the engine bay, inline with where the brake pedal is. If you don’t see it, check the owners book, it will tell you what the cap looks like. Open the cap and shine you flashlight in. You want to check the level. Be sure its at the full mark. Look at the color. When new the fluid is yellow. It turns greenish after time. If its Black, get the fluid flushed . Be sure to use the correct fluid. VW uses DOT 4+ fluid.
Ok, the fluid is good. Lets move to the wheels.
Start in the front, you’ll see why soon. Look through the rim. You will see a silver disc, that is the brake rotor. It should be a nice silver color. Look for any rust build up on the outer edge, some is normal, but you don’t want your pads trying to clamp down on rust. If you see a blueish tint, your brakes are getting too hot and need further inspection. I like to run my fingernail up and down the rotor, like the hands of a clock @ 12:00, to check for any scoring or grooves that are forming.
If your rotor is good, now lets move to the pads.
Pads are the friction matieral that clamp down on the rotor to stop the car. The brake pads are the part that will wear the quickest. The pads are housed in the brake caliper and might be tricky to see. The caliper is usually at the 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock positions. This part is kinda tricky. Follow the rotor around until you come to the pad. The pad will look like its sitting on the rotor. Its actually barely riding the rotor to keep water off of it. If the part that rides on the rotor is narrower than a quarter, replace them, NOW!
If you can see any of the lines, just check and make sure they are not wet with fluid.
Most cars will have a wear indicator of some kind for the front brakes. Volkswagens have an electric sensor built into the pad. Other cars like Honda have “squealers”. They will make a heck of a noise when its time to get replaced. Please do not rely on these systems to keep you safe.
Well, time to move to the rear wheels.
One of 2 things will happen here. If the rear brakes looks like the front, just use the same method as the front. If you don’t see a rotor or brake pads, there is nothing to check. Your brakes are drum style brakes, and the drum needs to be removed.
Well, you did it. A quick and easy inspection. How did it go? How long did it take? Please post in the comments how it went for you.
*Remember, If you are not 100% sure, get your brakes checked by a professional. I am not responsible for any misdiagnosis, or errors that are made*