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Change brakes - What to pay attention to?

The brakes in a car are among the most important and safety-relevant car parts. For this reason, particular importance should be attached to reliability through high quality. This refers primarily to the correct choice of new brake components, such as brake discs, brake pads, brake calipers and brake hoses.

In terms of safety, you should always rely on high-quality branded goods from well-known manufacturers. However, the best brake components are of little use if the assembly or replacement is not carried out carefully enough. When replacing brake components, the installation instructions of the vehicle and parts manufacturers must therefore be observed.

In this article, we will go into more detail on the following topics:

When to change brakes?
Which parts have to be replaced when changing the brakes?
Change brakes correctly and avoid complaints
What is mandatory to consider when running in new brakes?

When should brakes be changed?

The frequency with which brakes have to be replaced depends on, among other things, the individual driving style, transmission type, vehicle weight and vehicle use. There are various indications that the brakes need to be changed.

Signs for a necessary brake change or brake system change can be:

  • if the minimum thickness of brake linings, brake shoes and brake discs or brake drums falls below the minimum thickness specified by the car manufacturers
  • Wear indicator (warning contact) gives signal, warning light or acoustic signal
  • Steering wheel vibration or unusual braking noises
  • Grinding brakes
  • Brakes rubbing
  • Low level of the brake fluid
  • Reduced braking power

Loud grinding noises on the wheels may indicate that the carrier plates of the brake linings are coming into contact with the brake disc.

Above all, the shrinkage of the brake fluid is an important point that requires an urgent visit to the workshop. Because if the cause is a leak, every single component from the line to the connections to the expansion tank must be checked. This is the only way to find where the liquid is leaking. This is a complex process that requires a great deal of specialist knowledge. It is therefore advisable to call on the services of a workshop.

What should be replaced when changing the brake?

The extent of a brake change depends on the type of wear. brake linings and brake shoes wear faster than brake discs and brake drums. They are therefore replaced more frequently. For most vehicles, the warning contact (wear indicator) must also be replaced in this connection.

If, however, the brake disc or the brake drum is worn out and must be replaced, then the corresponding brake linings or brake shoes and the warning contact must always also be replaced. Only in this way can the components form a unit. If an older brake lining is mounted on a new brake disc, this can lead to a reduced braking effect. The same applies to the brake drums. By the way, individually assembled brake sets simplify the procurement process because they already contain components that fit together.

In general, the load on the brake on the front axle is higher than on the rear axle. For this reason, it is usually sufficient to replace the brakes axle by axle. In addition, the brake fluid should also be checked and, if necessary, topped up or completely replaced when changing the brakes. As a guideline, an interval of every 2 to 3 years is generally used for this purpose.

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What to do when changing the brakes?

The steps to change braking are not particularly difficult in themselves. However, it is a time-consuming process in which mistakes can also be made. Therefore it is advisable to only change the brakes yourself if you really have the necessary specialist knowledge and a suitable working environment. For all those who are experienced enough, we have listed the most important steps that should be considered when changing brakes. Depending on the vehicle type (e.g. cars with electronic parking brake), however, further steps have to be considered. Short video clips from the brand manufacturer Zimmermann illuminate some of the steps in more detail.

The following steps must be followed in any case when changing the brake disc:

  1. Bleeding the brake system, as otherwise the vehicle may not be moved
  2. Dismantling the wheels. It is important to secure the vehicle against rolling away
  3. Removing the warning contact and unscrewing the guide pins
  4. Removal of brake calliper
  5. clean the contact surfaces and for example with plastilube grease
  6. Removing the brake carriers and then the brake linings
  7. Removal of the brake disc / brake drum
  8. Inspect complete brake system
  9. Rad hub free of dirt and rust until it shines again
  10. Verify that the contact surface of the wheel hub is flat
  11. Dry mounting of brake disc
  12. Bleed brake
  13. When assembling always pay attention to the correct torques of the bolts
  14. Tighten the bolts of the wheels crosswise
  15. Check the brake fluid and top up if necessary
  16. Test brake until a noticeable resistance sets in

If problems arise at the latest at the last point or if a brake component can no longer be fitted as required, a workshop should urgently be visited. The replacement of brakes involves safety-relevant areas of the vehicle. Here, clean and correct work is essential for driving safety and should therefore only be carried out by experienced specialists.

Ebenso it is recommended to rely on high quality spare parts. Leading spare part manufacturers such as Zimmermann, Textar, Brembo or ATE stand for high-quality workmanship. Their spare parts meet the requirements of vehicle manufacturers and can be used without hesitation for brake replacement. Our service team will be happy to advise you on the selection of the right brake parts.

What to consider when applying new brakes?

Whether the brake has been changed by the customer or the workshop, a new brake system must first be run in for it to function properly. Only in this way can the surfaces of the brake lining and brake disc adapt to each other. Otherwise there may be uneven wear of the friction surfaces, which may impair the function and effectiveness of the brake. Therefore, in the following you will find a few important tips for correct "braking" of the brake system:

  1. For the first 300 - 500km, violent and shock braking should be avoided in order to prevent thermal overload.
  2. During the running-in phase approx. 30 braking operations should be carried out from max. 100km/h. The respective braking should not last longer than 3 seconds. It is important that there is a minimum of 3 minutes between each braking cycle so that the brake discs can cool down again with the airflow.
  3. Braking should only take place on road sections in compliance with the StVo.
  4. If possible, do not apply the brakes on wet roads or in rain.

If emergency braking is required, it must also be carried out with full braking force during the running-in phase. However, this can cause the brakes to run out of shape afterwards. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to drive as far ahead as possible to avoid emergency braking.

When the brakes are properly applied, there are a few small tips on how to extend the life of the brake system:

  • Brake more vigorously at regular intervals so that the beginnings of rust and dirt are "braked away"
  • Have the brake fluid changed regularly during the maintenance intervals
  • Damp or wet brakes carefully dry brakes

If the tips are followed, you can also take longer trips with peace of mind. This also helps to avoid unnecessary repairs, which is good for your wallet, and also increases driving safety.

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