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Car Brakes - Checked, Repaired and Replaced
Your brakes are the most important safety-critical system fitted to your vehicle and it is essential that they are inspected regularly to ensure they remain in good working order. To ensure you get the best advice and the best prices on brakes, speak directly to one of our local expert mechanics.
Identifying Brake Problems
If you notice any of the following you should have your brakes checked by one of our expert technicians to find out whether any components may need replacing;
Modern vehicles have an array of sensors that will tell you if there is an issue with your ABS or your brake pads are wearing. Never ignore a dashboard warning light, always get it checked straight away. At National, we can run a diagnostic check with our diagnostic scan tool that will diagnose the reason code behind any dashboard warning light. You can book a diagnostic check here
Brake pedals should feel firm as you press them. If you can push the pedal to the floor with little resistance or if the brake pedal feels soft or spongy, then this may indicate a loss of brake fluid somewhere in the system, usually a leaking brake line. It could also indicate contamination of the brake fluid with water, which dilutes the brake fluid’s boiling point and can cause brake fade. This is a serious fault and need checking by a qualified mechanic immediately.
This can be a sign that a brake is binding on one side. If your vehicle pulls to one side when braking you should have this checked straight away by a qualified technician.
Squealing when you press the brakes can be caused by brake dust collecting on the brake pads; rust or debris stuck to the disc’s surface or most likely indicates that your brake pads have worn low. Some vehicles are fitted with a wear indicator that lights up on the dashboard if the sensor touches the disc.
Sometimes brake discs can warp, caused by the effect of heat build-up or friction over time. This can cause the brakes to judder or pulse when braking from high speed. The sensation feels similar to the Anti-lock brake system being activated. This should be checked out by a qualified mechanic.
This could indicate that your brake pads need replacing or that something may be pressing against the surface of the brake disc i.e. the metal parts of the brake pad or the caliper itself.
These may be the tell-tale signs of the gradual deterioration that occurs within your braking system over time. If you suspect that your brakes are not functioning as well as they should, we recommend that you have them checked by a qualified technician.
Free Visual Brake Safety Check
If you think you have a problem but are not sure what it is, then why not pop in for a quick visual safety inspection. Our technicians will be able to take a quick look at the condition of your brake discs and brake pads (often without needing to remove the wheels) and can provide a no-obligation quotation if something needs replacing. You can book an appointment for FREE by clicking the BOOK AN APPOINTMENT button above.
Interim or Full Service
National now offers two different levels of servicing which also incorporate a brake check.
Related: Servicing Packages
Range of brakes
National supplies and fits DriveTec brake parts. Drive Tec brakes are precision machined and equivalent to the original equipment (OE) specification. Trusted by brake fitting professionals across the UK who appreciate the rigorous testing and quality control in their manufacturing. DriveTec brakes are x-ray inspected and independently certified to exceed the European Quality Standard (ECE R90) and provide excellent wear resistance, hot braking performance, speed sensitivity, noise reduction, and corrosion resistance.
All DriveTec brake parts are covered by National's guarantees.
How long do brake pads and discs last?
This will depend on driving style and conditions, but you should expect around 20,000 miles from your brake pads and 40,000 miles from your brake discs.
Related: How to maintain your brakes
As you would expect from National, all parts and workmanship are guaranteed for 2 years / 24,000 miles (whichever is sooner) and this covers replacement brake pads, brake discs, brake drums, brake shoes, brake hoses, brake calipers, brake master cylinders and brake hoses.
Related: National guarantees
Brakes Price Promise
At National, we are committed to keeping your costs as low as possible and continually price check against our competitors to ensure we remain the most competitive in the industry.
We have thousands of brake parts available including pads, discs, drums, shoes, calipers, cylinders, hoses, and cables.
Our Price Promise to you – if you can find the same product at a lower price, in stock locally within 7 days of purchase – we promise to match that competitor's written quotation.
Related: Price Promise
How much do brake pads and brake discs cost?
Brake pads wear faster than you might expect, especially with the start-stop traffic we find ourselves in in the UK, but they are often one of the most neglected ‘wear and tear’ items. Unlike tyres, you can’t ‘see’ your brake pads and as they tend to wear over time it’s easy to miss the tell-tale signs.
Costs for pads and discs can vary dramatically depending on the vehicle manufacturer and the complexity and time involved in stripping the old parts and fitting the new parts. It's always best to take your vehicle to a branch where they can inspect the parts more closely and offer the correct replacement part and an estimate of time and price.
Replacing your brake pads and discs should not be a daunting prospect, but it is useful to understand the terminology to help de-mystify some of the language used and better understand the cost of replacement.
Every driver should be familiar with their brake pedal since they use it so often. When the brake pedal is pressed it forces brake fluid through the system which causes the brake pads to press against the brake discs and slow the vehicle down.
The master cylinder converts the force (when you press the brake pedal) into hydraulic pressure, which in turn pushes brake fluid, through brake hoses to the brake caliper.
Brake hoses are usually made of rubber (sometimes stainless steel) are used to carry brake fluid to the brake caliper. Brake hoses need inspecting regularly for cracks and leaks which may affect braking performance.
A non-compressible, silicon-based liquid that can also absorb moisture if exposed to the air (hygroscopic), which in turn can compromise your brakes. If brake fluid gets contaminated with water it reduces its boiling point, which can cause bubbles, which in turn are compressible. This means the braking system wastes some of its force trying to compress that gas instead of stopping the car.
Brake fluid comes in types distinguished by their DOT code and each has a different dry and wet boiling point. Some are blended with additional additives that alter their viscosity (stickiness); increase their boiling points; reduce water absorption or inhibit rust. It is not advisable to mix different types of brake fluid.
Drum brakes are less popular in modern vehicles. Drum brake systems use a combination of wheel cylinders, brake shoes, and a brake drum to slow a vehicle. Pressing the brake pedal, in turn, pushes two brake shoes outwards against the rotating brake drum. This action causes friction against the brake drum which is attached to the wheel and the vehicle slows down. Drum brakes date back to the early 1900s and most modern vehicles now use a disc brake system which is less prone to brake fade, caused by overheating.
Brake pads are squeezed against a brake disc using hydraulic pressure and the resulting friction causes the vehicle to slow down. This is the most common type of braking system used on modern vehicles.
Brake calipers squeeze the brake pads against the brake disc. Wheel cylinders extend to press the brake shoes against the brake drum.
Brake pads press against the brake disc to slow the rotation of the wheel. Brake pads wear rapidly and need constant checks to ensure there is enough friction material on them. To read more about signs that your brake pads may need replacing, please click on the following article: How to tell if you need new brake pads.
Related: How brakes work
How much do brake pads cost?
A set of brake pads, fully fitted, costs on average around £80, but prices start from as little as £30 depending on the vehicle type, the degree of complexity of the braking system, and most importantly the time involved in their replacement.
These prices are fully fitted and include labour and VAT.
Front brake pads take up to 75% of the stopping force, so they tend to be thicker than those used on the rear (which are generally for stability on an average car) and can therefore cost more.
How much do brake discs cost?
Brake discs are generally replaced in pairs and cost on average around £75 each, fully fitted, but can cost from as little as £30.
If having discs replaced, National recommends having the pads replaced at the same time for optimal braking performance
Cost to replace a brake wheel cylinder
Changing a brake wheel cylinder can be a bigger job than changing pads and discs and is also much less likely to need changing.
If you do need to change your brake wheel cylinder then consider a brake fluid change at the same time as you don’t want dirty old brake fluid in a new cylinder.
A new brake wheel cylinder would cost on average around £45, but can start from as little as £35 – remember that is fully fitted and includes labour.
Cost to replace brake fluid
At National, the price of a brake fluid change is £39.99.
At National, we only use quality parts that are manufactured to OE (original equipment) standards and of course, all our parts and workmanship come with a UK-wide, no-quibble guarantee.
There are some key indicators that may point out that your car needs a brake fluid change. To read more about this, please click on the following blog article: 6 signs that you need a brake fluid change.
Can I drive with faulty brakes?
Knowingly driving a vehicle on a public road with a major defect is punishable with a fine and an endorsement on your driving license, not to mention the human cost if involved in a serious accident.
Safety first – your brake system is critical to your safety and the safety of your passengers and other road users. Never take a chance with your brakes. You don’t want them to let you down when you need them most.
Can I paint the brake calipers?
Yes, you can paint the brake calipers. Find out how to do this with a simple step-by-step guide by clicking on the related article below:
Related: Painting brake calipers
My brakes are squeaking- what should I do?
There are many reasons why your car brakes could be squeaking. This could point to a potential issue. To read more about squeaking brakes, please click on the following article: Why do my brakes squeak?