How does the brake system work?
The brake system slows and stops the vehicle by transmitting pressure from the drivers foot on the brake pedal to the brake calipers or wheel cylinders.
How can it fail?
Each time the brakes are used, a tiny amount of the friction material on the brake pads or shoes is worn off. The friction between the pads and the brake discs eventually causes the discs to become thin. Thin discs are unable to dissipate the heat generated under braking, and will reduce braking efficiency.
Brake fluid contains chemicals that protect the components of the brake system from internal corrosion.
Brake fluid absorbs moisture, and when the moisture content in the fluid becomes too high, it increases corrosion and reduces the boiling point of the fluid. Which in turn can greatly reduce braking efficiency. Failed seals in the brake master cylinder result in the system losing pressure when the pedal pressed.
Results of failure:
Worn parts reduce your ability to slow and stop the vehicle. Brake fluid with depleted corrosion protection can result in damage to the system components - especially to valves inside the Antilock Braking System or ABS.
Required Service or Repairs:
Brake pads and shoes should be replaced when the friction material reaches a minimum acceptable level. Brake fluid should be replaced according to your vehicle manufacturer's recommendation - normally every 1-3 years, or when testing shows that the boiling point has dropped or corrosion inhibitors are depleted.
All brake system components should also inspected periodically to check for worn components so as to ensure safe stopping.