Know all about your brakes and clutch

brakes and clutch

One of the first things you are taught when learning to drive is the importance of your brake and clutch pedals.

How do your brakes work?

There are a few ways in which the brakes system in a car works:

The driver of the car creates pressure when pressing down on the brake. The brake servo also adds to the force of the brake. The piston moves to the tube, and its liquid is forced out. The hydraulic brake fluid is pushed to flow around the whole braking system, including all the lines and pipes within the brake system. The pressure is then spread evenly between all four of the brakes in the car system. The effect created allows the car to come to a stop.

The car brakes are fluid and can be either a disk brake or a drum brake. In most vehicles which are four-wheel drive, there are disc brakes on the wheels at the front of the car and drum brakes on the rear wheels. The front brakes are responsible for stopping the car.

Differences between brake pads and brake shoes

Brake padsBrake shoes
This is a flat piece of steel with thick material on one side which causes tension. The material type is not standard, and it depends on the car type, the size of the car and what type of brakes are needed.This carries the brake lining within the drum system. It is a rounded piece of metal. The piece of material to one side of the metal causes friction. It has a longer lifespan than brake pads, as the braking proportion it undertakes is much lower.

Types of brakes

There are four types of brakes that you should know about:

  1. Disc brakes: These types of brakes are attached to the tyres and use the hydraulic system to slow and stop the car.
  2. Drum brakes: These brakes are attached to the inside of the tyres. It allows the brake shoes to press against the brake drums. This motion creates friction, which allows the car to slow down and stop.
  3. Emergency brakes: This is also called the parking brakes or the secondary system. These brakes work completely separately from the service brakes, and you get different types of emergency brakes, namely the stick lever, the third pedal, the push button/handle. The emergency brake is powered by cables that automatically apply pressure to the tyres. This is used to keep the car still while parked and can be used in emergencies if the stationary brakes fail.
  4. Anti-lock brakes: This is ABS on most of the newer model cars. If the still brakes are used suddenly, the ABS will stop the tyres from locking. This is a useful feature, especially when you drive on wet roads as it will prevent you from skidding across the road.

Maintaining your brakes system

  1. Monitor your brake fluid: The amount of brake fluid in your car should be checked every three to four months. Brake fluid should be substituted biannually.
  2. Your brake discs’ wear and tear are based on the way you drive, as well as the environmental conditions in which you drive.
  3. Make sure to drain your hydraulic brake system to remove the air from it. To do this, you will need someone who can pump the brakes while you monitor the controller to ensure that the brake fluid is flowing through.
  4. To guarantee that the cushions and blades are in good working order, have them checked regularly. Replace both if they are worn down.

Your brakes should be reviewed for roadworthiness annually. Contact us for all braking system needs at

The clutch system controls the speed as well as the stop and start of any car. This is done by applying pressure to the clutch pedal, which allows power to be cut off from the engine of the car’s transmission. The clutch will also be used when gears are changed.

Most common clutch problems

  • Wearing: Due to the constant friction undergone by the clutch, the material on the disc wears out.
  • Broken cable: The clutch cable is under constant tension to push and pull and can break after a while.
  • Leaks: There could be leaks within the cylinders to keep them from building up the right amount of pressure to function normally.
  • Misalignment: This usually occurs when pressing on the clutch pedal, and the linkage transmits the wrong amount of force.
  • Air in hydraulic line: Air gets in the line where the fluid needs to be for pressure to build.
  • Hard clutch: If you need to press the clutch pedal with more force than normal, this may indicate a problem.

Ways to avoid wearing out your clutch

You will wear out your clutch because of the constant friction it experiences with gear shifting and switching your car on and off. Here are some ways to avoid that:

  • Shift your gears quickly and be decisive when doing so.
  • When parking, make use of your handbrake.
  • Do not ride your clutch.

Diagnosing problems with your clutch

  1. Switch on your ignition, pull up the handbrake and place the car in neutral.
  2. With just the engine on, listen for any low growling sounds. If there is no sound, move on to the next step. If you do hear a low growl, you might be experiencing problems with the transmission or your clutch.
  3. With the car still in neutral, slowly push down on the clutch pedal, and again listen for any sounds. If you can hear no noise, move on to the next step. If you hear a high-pitched squeak as you are pressing down on the pedal, you might be experiencing problems with the clutch release.
  4. In this step, you will need to put as much pressure as you can on the clutch. Any squealing sound means that you could have an issue with the pilot bearing or bushing. If there is no sound, you might not have a problem, but it is still advised to take the car to a professional to have it inspected.

For any clutch questions or services, contact us at Bosch Car Service Pretoria and we will gladly assist.

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