Are You Using Your Car's Secondary Braking System?

Posted on: 6 April 2022

If you drive in a very hilly part of the country, you may need to tackle steep descents as you travel from one point to another. You may not think twice about this type of manoeuvre as you've done it so many times, but did you know that you could be leading to potential problems if you do not drive those slopes in a certain way? What do you need to think about before you set out for your next journey, and what can go wrong if you don't pay attention to this issue?

Controlling the Mass

The average small car today can weigh up to 1000 kg, and this is a lot of mass to control if you are navigating down a particularly steep hill. This is why manufacturers equip your vehicle with two separate braking systems, and you are meant to use both of them in equal measure if you want to drive in the most efficient manner.

Using the Foot Brake

You may certainly be familiar with the braking system activated by your right foot as you compress the "slow" pedal. While the system is very efficient under normal circumstances, you should also be using the vehicle's engine to control momentum as well.

Secondary Braking System

Vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission should naturally select the right gear without too much input from the driver. If you have a car or truck with a manual gearbox, however, you will need to choose the right gear based on the slope of the hill and may need to adjust your choice as you descend. To do this properly, you should match the engine's revolutions with the gear so you do not put too much stress on the mechanical components.

Fading Away

If you don't drive like this, you are probably using the brake pedal far too much. This can certainly lead to overheating and, in some circumstances, a phenomenon known as "fade." The pads may simply heat up too much and lose their efficiency and could wear out before their time. Also, the brake fluid could boil if it is not in the best shape and may have accumulated some particles of moisture with time.

Consequences of Brake Fade

Brake fade is not something to toy with, as it can significantly increase the distance your vehicle will travel before it comes to a stop. If your pads or fluid are not working as they should, you may notice a spongy pedal that may travel a lot further than it used to.

Future Behaviour

Get into the habit of using the secondary braking system whenever driving in hilly territory. Also, take your vehicle to a mechanic so they can check the pads and fluid and make changes as necessary.