Don't Let Summer Put Brakes On Your Travel Plans

There’s a vital part of planning a driving vacation that too many drivers overlook: A visit to the service center for a brake inspection.

“Nobody wants brake trouble during their road trip,” said Tony Molla, vice president of the Automotive Service Association, a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to vehicle maintenance. “That will end a vacation in a hurry.

“Always get your brakes inspected before going on a driving vacation.”

The brake system remains a vital safety component that’s prone to problems when the weather turns warm. Heat is the main culprit, especially for vehicles loaded down with travelers and their gear.

Braking depends on friction, and the process slowly erodes the brake system over time. Routine maintenance of the shoes, fluid and hoses prevents normal wear and tear from becoming a costly headache.

Friction and heat can wear unevenly on brake parts and contaminate brake fluid.

If brake pads become too worn down, the metal inside them may permanently damage the rotor. Rather than a minor brake repair, you could wind up replacing the entire brake system.

What might a typical brake inspection include?

Molla made the following suggestions for next time your bring your vehicle into your neighborhood repair center:

  • Check the master cylinder for leaks. This reservoir beneath the hood stores the brake fluid and needs to be periodically checked for worn out seals.
  • Inspect brake hoses for degradation. These hoses carry fluid to and from various brake components. Worn out hoses make for an inefficient braking system.
  • Inspect brake fluid lines. Brakes are a hydraulic system requiring fluid for proper functioning. Leaking or damaged brake lines degrade system performance.
  • Test your vehicle’s parking brake. Ask your service advisor to check the system to make sure it’s working properly. This is easy to overlook when considering brake repair.