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Dozens of Motorists Killed by Defective Brakes & How to Stay Safe

By Stephen Turvil | October 29, 2018


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Fast, easy, steps to check your car’s brakes as figures show faults contributed to thousands of incidents since 2013

Dozens of Motorists Killed by Defective Brakes & How to Stay Safe

 UK road casualty figures

Dozens of people were killed and thousands more injured via collisions whereby defective brakes were a contributing factor between 2013 – 2017 in The United Kingdom, Kwik Fit analysis of Government data suggests. 49 people therefore died, 677 were seriously hurt and a further 4,238 sustained less serious injuries.

Casualties totalled 4,964 which equated to about 3 per day (on average). Furthermore, the number of people killed and seriously injured via such collisions both fell then rose within the aforementioned time frame. Between 2013 – 2015, for starters, the casualty figure fell 8.9%. It then rose 12.2% for the next 2 years.

How a brake works

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Clearly, it is important to ensure your car brakes properly to feel safe, confident and happy on the road. Whereas it is essential to have a trained, experienced, technician periodically inspect such parts it is easy to spot some issues yourself. Simply, therefore, note below how a brake works then look, listen and feel for faults.

Recognise first that your car has disc brakes at its front (and possibly its rear). Such a brake incorporates a large, circular, metal disc that spins with the wheel. Furthermore, the disc is surrounded by a calliper that is little more than a claw. The calliper also contains brake pads. When you press your brake pedal:

  • Hydraulic fluid travels through lines to the calliper 
  • Calliper pushes the pads against the disc 
  • Disc slows 
  • Vehicle slows 
  • Disc and pads wear so get thinner 

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Simple, fast, brake checks

There are a few primary faults to note. A grinding noise, for starters. This suggests that the pads have worn to virtually nothing. The disc can be damaged in this scenario. Squealing is noteworthy, too. Perhaps the calliper is not fully releasing the disc. If so, your vehicle is braking even if you release the pedal.

Furthermore, pulsating implies that the disc overheated then warped. Its face is not flat, in other words. Maybe, in contrast, the car pulls left or right as you brake. Both problems can be caused by a calliper that cannot release properly. The latter can also be caused via a calliper which struggles to engage. Also note:

  • Spongy brake pedal might be caused by air in the lines that restricts the flow of essential, hydraulic, fluid 
  • Soft brake pedal that can be pushed to the floor might be caused by a dangerous, catastrophic, loss of hydraulic fluid 
  • Handbrake that rises too far might be caused by bad adjustment 

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