Your vehicle’s brake system – including the pads, calipers, and rotors – can last much longer than you may realize. The key is the way you use your brakes. Drivers seldom think about preserving the individual components and thus wear them out sooner than necessary. The costs of replacement parts and labor add up over time, making poor usage expensive.
In this article, we’ll offer five tips for prolonging the life of your brakes. If, after implementing the following suggestions, you find your brakes continue to wear out too quickly, the problem is likely the quality of the parts you’re buying.
1 – Coast Before Hitting The Pedal
A lot of people drive with one foot on the accelerator or brake pedal at all times. The moment they see a need to slow down, they hit the latter. It’s important to realize how this affects the pads. At high speeds, your car is generating an enormous amount of kinetic energy, which is converted into heat whenever you apply your brakes. This is how the pads bring your car to a stop. The problem is, this energy robs your pads of life.
Fortunately, the kinetic energy generated by your vehicle dissipates quickly as your speed declines. Learn to coast as much as possible. Rather than applying your brakes immediately, drift and let your car’s weight slow its speed. You’ll find your pads will last much longer.
2 – Plan Ahead To Accommodate Braking Drivers
There are sections of highways that become regular braking zones, even though there is little reason for drivers to slow down. This often happens when people misperceive a turn or are surprised by an incline or decline. Even though motorists can easily navigate these sections of the road without slowing, they instinctively apply their brakes. And this forces you to apply your own.
If you’re able to identify such areas on the roads you travel, remember them and plan ahead. Start coasting prior to reaching “problem sections” rather than hitting your brakes to react to other drivers. You may be able to avoid braking entirely.
3 – Extend Your View
Most people travel the same routes on a regular basis. This means they know when they’re approaching a traffic light, stop sign, or similar obstacle. The problem is, they often neglect to consider such stops because they’re concentrating on the road directly in front of them.
Learn to extend your view, and look down the road. That way, you can plan to coast as you approach red lights, traffic stops, and various road hazards that would otherwise force you to engage your brakes. Remember, the slower you’re traveling, the easier it is for your brakes to stop your vehicle.
4 – Shed A Few Excess Pounds
If you have accumulated unnecessary items in your car, consider removing them. They place extra weight on your vehicle’s frame. While this means your car will slow more quickly when coasting, the excess weight also makes it harder to stop quickly at high speeds. If you’re carrying your golf clubs, surfboard, weightlifting gear, and construction materials in your car, leave a few things behind. Your pads will last longer.
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5 – Avoid “Cheap” Pads
Whenever you take your vehicle into the shop for a routine brake job, avoid buying cheap replacement pads. They’re less costly upfront but are often more expensive over the long run. They wear down more quickly, which means you’ll need more frequent brake jobs.
Many times, repair garages will advertise a “brake special” where they offer to change the pads on your vehicle’s drive wheels. In reality, the pads are often cheaply designed, tending to wear down more quickly than higher-quality material. Being frugal is good. Being cheap with your brake pads will cost more money over time.
The suggestions above will preserve the life of your brake pads, and by extension, your rotors and calipers. It takes time to adapt and grow accustomed to new driving habits, but the effort is worthwhile.