One of the hardest working parts on a race car is the brakes. Maintenance of this part of our car is often an ongoing affair. Regardless, when the season is over, we need to do an evaluation, removal and repair of the entire brake system. Here are some thoughts on how to organize your end-of-season brake system maintenance.

Over the course of the year, we've probably gone through several sets of brake pads because of wear or need for a different compound. We've tweaked our brake balance to suit changing track conditions, setups and driver styles. Now is the time to take all of that into account and prepare for next season.

Evaluation The first step in the process of year-end maintenance is to evaluate all that went on during the season. How did the brakes perform? What changes did we make to affect brake efficiency and balance? Do we still have work to do to make our system better?

Once we have thought out the processes we went through during the season, we can then decide where we want to go for next year. If all was well, we would probably just want to go over the system and do regular maintenance. If we have the need to improve, then we need to consult a brake specialist and get some answers.

If we adjusted our balance bar to tune the braking balance, we need to take a look at where the balance bar is positioned in relation to the two master cylinders. It should be centered, but often is not. If the balance bar is off to one side, we need to think about making changes to the caliper piston and/or master cylinder bore size at the front or rear to help balance the system so we can center the bar.

Reducing the master cylinder bore size will generate more force on the pads. Increasing the size of the caliper bores will also generate more force on the pads. The opposite is true for both the master and the calipers. So, you can use different sized bores to balance the system.

Let's say you are having to use more and more rear brake to keep the front tires from locking up on entry and your balance bar position is biased toward the rear master plunger rod. You can either decrease the rear master bore size or increase the rear caliper bore size to generate more force on the rear brake pads and then center the balance bar.

You can also take force away from the front brakes by increasing the master bore size or decreasing the front caliper bore size. The decision on which end of the car to change might be decided upon inspection and finding one or the other damaged and needing replacement. If the front calipers are broken or worn out, now would be the time to change to a different size on that end of the car.

The same is true of the masters. If they are worn and need replacement, think about making changes to the force balance by ordering a different size than what you've been using. Your brake company technical department can help you decide what degree of change will help with your particular problem.

Inspection We will need to completely disassemble the brake system in order to do a thorough inspection. But first, we need to look over the complete installation and see if there are any visible conflicts.

A conflict is where the caliper rubs on the rim, or the pads are wearing at an angle from the alignment with the rotor being off due to an earlier crash or just hard use. The brake lines might be damaged from work done on the car to remove and replace the engine or suspension parts. We can now decide if the brake lines could be relocated to avoid future conflicts.

We can note the condition of the lines including the flexible lines. We need to take a close look at the rotors to see if any cracks or unusual wear is evident. We need to measure the width of the rotor and see if it's within tolerance for the amount of material the manufacturer recommends is safe.

The connection between the rotors and the hubs is a source of problems. A lot of heat and mechanical force is applied to the mounting tabs and connectors in these areas. See if you can spot problem areas that can be addressed later on.

If you run the same calipers and fluid the entire season, there will be dirt and dark, used up brake fluid present. This caliper is overdue for maintenance.