Your car’s braking system is likely the most important active safety feature of all, playing a vital role in allowing you to avoid a crash. At our BMW service center, as part of our routine servicing schedule, our technicians spend a lot of time inspecting and testing your braking system to ensure it works as it should.
This process has changed over time as automobile braking systems have advanced and been refined over the last century. No longer just a purely mechanical system, features like ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) have seen the braking system as a whole become a lot smarter. Many drivers don’t know how much technology has gone into making sure that their cars brake as smoothly and as quickly as possible, so let’s examine some of the components of the modern braking system in some more detail.
BMW ABS Brakes
For the casual observer, vehicle safety is often about how many airbags a car is fitted with, but it can be argued that ABS brakes are an even more important safety feature as they can help you avoid a crash in the first place. In a severe braking event, ABS allows you to maintain traction with the road surface, especially if the surface is wet or slippery. In essence, ABS works like cadence braking, only much faster and more effectively, by detecting when one wheel is rotating at a different speed to the others – this is a sign that the wheels are locking or close to locking.
Sensors on the wheels pick up this rotation signal and the electronics then activate a relief valve, reducing braking pressure until the rotation of the relevant wheel or wheels is equal with the others. This process is repeated many times per second, which is why stopping power is maintained without a loss of traction. If your ABS warning light lights up, our BMW service technicians will check for faulty sensors or control modules, as well as any fault codes. Of course, a properly functioning ABS system relies upon a braking system that is well maintained overall.
BMW Brake Assist (BA)
Also known as EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), this system detects when a driver is applying emergency braking. Research conducted in the early 1990s showed that a high percentage of drivers didn’t brake with enough force in an emergency, or were not prepared for the vibration / physical feedback when ABS kicks in, causing them to brake too tentatively. Brake Assist ensures that enough braking pressure is applied in an emergency, and it can reduce stopping distance by 70 ft. from 125 mph. As with ABS, Brake Assist relies on correctly functioning sensors to properly do its job.
BMW M Carbon Ceramic Brakes
An option on an increasing number of M cars, these are the brakes to get if you want the best! Compared with BMW M’s standard compound brakes, the carbon ceramics offer a reduced rotational mass of around 27 pounds. Designed specifically for track use, these brakes make use of a six-piston caliper on the front axle and a four-piston caliper at the back. The brake pads provide you with a much higher surface area and the discs are much less susceptible to corrosion. Although the carbon ceramic discs last far longer than standard braking systems, regular track use and high operating temperatures can cause the fibers in the disc to burn up. Over time, although the disc won’t become thinner, it will become lighter – once it becomes too light, a technician will recommend its replacement. If you use your BMW on the track, it’s a good call to have your brakes checked for any premature wear.
When Do You Need To Service Your Brakes?
As a critical safety system, your car’s brakes should always be checked as part of its scheduled servicing. However, you should get your brakes checked immediately if you ever notice:
- Any brake warning light has come on
- A grinding or growling sound under braking
- A brake pedal that vibrates or pulsates under normal braking
- Reduced responsiveness
As you can see, the modern braking system relies upon many sensors and electronics, and only your technician will be able to pick up any faults as they may not be noticeable in everyday driving. Only our specialized BMW equipment can be used for this purpose.
Make sure your braking system is in decent shape by visiting our BMW workshop, and we’ll make sure that these advanced systems are working as they should – after all, your safety depends on it.