Wouldn’t it be great if you could magically wish all of your maintenance items away? Then your windows would be washed, your lawn would always be neatly trimmed, and your car would run in tip-top shape, no matter what the weather conditions throw at you.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, you have to take on each chore yourself, monitoring the status and making choices about when to repair and when to replace.
One of the most vital systems in your car is your braking system. Imagine coming home from a weekend of skiing and not having your brakes in place. The idea is terrifying at best.
While every vehicle is different, statistics show that most will need brake replacement somewhere between 20,000 and 70,000 miles.
That’s a huge variance. And there’s a reason for that. A lot of it depends on your vehicle, and the quality of products used to build the car. But even more of it comes down to driving and care.
Are there ways to increase the lifespan of your brakes? You bet. Read on.
How brakes work
In order to increase the lifespan of your brakes, it’s important to understand how your brakes work.
A car in motion uses a lot of kinetic energy. To bring a vehicle to a stop, the brakes have to remove that kinetic energy, sometimes abruptly. Brakes do that by using friction to move kinetic energy into heat.
By pressing down on the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid is pushed through the master cylinder, which ultimately applies pressure to brakes located at all four wheels. Hydraulics is what multiplies the force behind pushing down on the brake pedal.
Each wheel contains either disc brakes or drum brakes. Disc brakes have a brake disc, a brake caliper, and a brake pad. Hydraulic fluid causes the brake caliper to press the brake pad against the brake disc. This action causes friction, which sends the heat into the brake pad. A stopping car can generate as much as 950 degrees of heat, so these pads must work, and continue to work well.
Drum brakes are similar, but contain a brake drum and a brake shoe instead. The brake drum controls wheel movement. As the brake pedal is depressed, the brake shoe pushes against the brake drum, creating friction and stopping the wheel.
What causes wear on the braking system? Time and use. The more your brakes are put into action, the more wear will be given to each part in the system. But don’t think leaving your car set will be any different. Even a car that sets will eventually have parts that crack or break. It’s important to keep your vehicle properly maintained, no matter how you use it.
How can you increase the lifespan of your brakes?
If you live in an area where there’s a lot of stop-and-go traffic (hello, Denver), then you’ll be using your brakes a lot more than someone who lives in a more rural area. This impacts how fast the brake pads and rotors wear.
Normal braking will ensure you get the longest life possible from your braking system. However, there are several habits that drivers are prone to that will actually wear your brakes out faster. Reduce or eliminate these few things, and your brake life will be extended.
Let’s start with a big one. It’s easy to feel rushed as you move throughout your busy days. When you leave even just a few minutes late for pickup or a meeting, you’re more likely to push the pedal down a little more to try and make up the time.
Pushing the speed limit causes two reactions. First, you’re more likely to ride closely to the car in front of you. This means you’re more likely to slam on the brakes when they slow down and come to a stop. You’ll use a lot more of your brake pad as you ride the brakes to control the movement of your vehicle.
Second, higher speeds mean more wear and tear. It takes more action to slow down your car, the faster you travel.
Stick with the speed limits, and drive according to road conditions. You’ll save on wear and tear, and decrease your risk of accidents.
One foot, less brake erosion
Have you ever driven behind a vehicle where the brake lights are always illuminated? They are a two footed driver. That means they use their right foot on the accelerator and left foot on the brake pedal. Instead of taking the foot completely off the brake pedal, they leave it there, resting, waiting to strike into action. The problem is they are also wearing out the braking system way before its time.
Driving with both feet doesn’t make you a safer driver. It won’t improve your response time. Instead, it causes more problems with vehicle maintenance, wearing down the brake pads and warping the rotors.
Keep your left foot on the floor, your right foot ready to spring to action, and a watchful eye on the road. That’s still the best way to drive.
Lighten your load
Depending on the vehicle you drive, you might be shuttling around several thousand pounds. If you load up the trunk with stuff, you may be adding to your load. While you might need lots of stuff when you head out on the open road for a family vacation, leave the stuff at home when you’re just moving around town. The heavier a vehicle, the harder it has to work to stop. And that means more pressure on your braking system.
This isn’t just about what you put in the trunk either. Do you have aftermarket products lining your vehicle inside and out? A ski rack on top? A bike rack on back? Remember, the heavier your vehicle, the more pressure it puts on your brakes. And the more it takes away from your wallet.
When was the last time you had your brakes inspected?
Your brakes won’t always alert you to problems in a convenient way. Being stranded by the side of the road is never fun. It can be dangerous too.
Instead, isn’t it time for your annual inspection, to ensure everything about your vehicle is running smoothly? Not only will simple tests assure you’re driving a safe car, but it can also increase the lifespan of every major system, including your brakes.
Call today for your appointment. And drive away with peace of mind.