Why is it important to maintain your brakes?
There is a pretty straightforward reason behind maintaining your brakes that people seem to forget sometimes and that is so you can stop your vehicle when required. We tend to take for granted the luxury of being able to stop in time and rarely give it a thought when we pull up our driveways or stop at the lights. However, the brake system is a pretty awesome system where different components all have to work in sync to keep you safe and stop your car.
A Heavy Foot
Driving with a heavy foot can drastically reduce the life span of your brake components. Erratic driving can cause large amounts of heat and friction which wears down the brake pads and rotors. The main damage happens with repetitive, heavy braking where the heat doesn't have time to dissipate properly which can warp the rotors after some time. You will be reminded of your bad habits whenever you stop (squealing noise).
Your load can make a big impact on your brakes and their life span. This is especially true for vehicles that are designed for towing and have multiple redundant braking systems. One of the main hazards here is in thinking that if one of the systems isn't working, the other systems will be able to take the load. If your only using half of the available brakes. you are putting way to much pressure and force on the brakes than was designed. This is also important to take into account with an ordinary car as overuse of the brake system with too much load will lead to complete failure eventually.
How to detect problems with your brakes?
The main way to detect if your vehicle has braking issues is through driving your vehicle. You will be able to notice a difference. Below are a list of possible symptoms of brake problems
Brake light on
Squealing, Grinding noise
Wobbling, Vibration when braking
Soft brake pedal
Car pulling to one side whilst driving along
Burning smell whilst driving
All these are clear indicators of something wrong with your brakes and would be very evident to you.
It is best practise to visit your local garage every 12 months for a regular checkup on your brakes and other systems. That way, you can be sure that all the components are good to go and you are safe to drive on the road.