Imagine driving on a highway and not being able to bring your ride to a stop when you apply the brake. The fear of being unable to stop a moving vehicle is a common one for many drivers and more especially, for the novice driver. It’s a nightmare. You can imagine how frightening it will be to slam your foot on the brake pedal and have no response from the car.
To find solutions to your nagging brake troubles, GRAPHIC BUSINESS went to Odawna, the mechanic hub of the Central Business District of Accra, to talk to a brake specialist, Mr Abdulai Ahmed.
With 25 years of experience under his belt, Mr Ahmed, popularly known as Abu, has serviced the brake component of more than 20,000 vehicles. His ingenuity with brakes is well known among his peers.
Among his reputable clients are the Police Hospital, the Department of Urban Roads, former Inspector-General of Police, Mr C.K Dewornu; the Board Chairman of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund, Mr Ato Ahwoi, and former Information Minister, Mr Kwamena Bartels.
Odawna has more than 50 mechanics handling different mechanical problems, each with expertise in everything from air-conditioners to exhaust pipes.
With his head deep in a bonnet, Mr Ahmed said “there are a number of possible causes of vehicle brake failure. If the brake lines become damaged, the car may not properly respond and stop. Oil or grease can also get on the brakes and cause them to resist the friction necessary to stop the vehicle.”
He shared some of the brake problems he has encountered over the years and their solutions:
The pedal sinks to the floor
This is usually caused by the inability of the master cylinder to hold pressure; a dangerous condition because a worn out master cylinder or leak in the hydraulic system may cause the brakes to fail. The ideal solution is to replace the master cylinder with a new rebuilt cylinder.
Low brake pedal
It could be as a result of shoe adjusters or rear drum brakes are rusted or sticking and not meeting the demands for normal lining wear. Other causes include worn brake linings or a fluid leak. Adjusting the rear drum brakes may restore a full pedal. However, unless the adjusters are cleaned or replaced, the problem will persist and return as the linings continue to wear.
Grinding noise that can be felt in the pedal
It is the handwork of excessively worn brake linings. A car in such a condition may be dangerous to drive because it may take a longer time to stop. As the lining wears off, the metal part of the brake pad or shoe contacts the brake disc or drum posing threat to the brake system.
Shaking steering wheel when you brake
It is necessary to replace your brake pads so that it will mate and align to the brake disc. This will fix the steering wheel vibration when braking.
Vehicle pulling to one side when driver brakes
On vehicles with front disc brakes, a stuck caliper and brake fluid leak can cause this problem. It may also be because one of the front brakes is malfunctioning.
It can be caused by vibrations between the disc brake pads and caliper, or the pads and rotor. The application of brake grease to the pack of the pads is an antidote to the vibration and noise.
Vehicle bounces up and down when driver brakes: Its probable cause may be due to weak shock absorbers which may need to be replaced.
Mr Ahmed urged car owners to have routine maintenance of their vehicles to ensure that they do not fall victims to brake failure.
The brake expert said it was not enough to bring the car to the shop when something went wrong. Extra care should be devoted to car safety features before the unfortunate happens.
“Never allow the brake fluid to run low. It’s a recipe for disaster and could affect the ability of the brake to stop your vehicle,” he stated, wiping his face.
The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item. According to experts, brake failure is one of the most common causes of accidents on our roads. Having an efficient brake is smart way to avoid accidents.
Another brake specialist, Mr Bismark Adu, urged the public to avoid cheaper options when it comes to brakes because there a lot of fake brake parts that may be cheaper but cost lives.
He also urged the public not wait until their brakes develops faults they could not manage before they rush to mechanics saying “these days, the electronic cars have advanced warning systems that warn you on the dash board. Heed to the advice.”