As one of the most important safety features on a vehicle, brake pads create the friction and force adequate to stop a car. Although they wear with time and use, you can make them last longer by following a few simple steps.
Normal Wear on Brake Pads
Since several factors affect a car’s wear–city vs. rural driving, vehicle model and year, miles are driven, personal driving style–calculating averages isn’t foolproof. While some brake pads might last 35,000 miles, others can maintain their performance for up to 70,000. With that said, heavy traffic causes the most damage to a vehicle’s brake system, and front pads tend to wear quicker than rear ones.
Tips for Making Brake Pads Last
As a general rule, cautious driving and braking will add miles to any vehicle. Avoid sudden stops at high speeds and try to stay away from stop-and-go situations when possible. Here are a few more tips for longer-lasting brakes:
- Allow enough space between you and the car ahead so that stopping is gradual and easy.
- Maintain a low speed through traffic to avoid sudden stops.
- Stay with the flow of traffic to avoid unnecessary braking.
- Avoid carrying unnecessary weight in your car.
- When cleaning your car, remember to spray the brakes. Dust and debris can build up on the inner wheel drum and affect brake friction.
- Coast when you can. If you can predict an upcoming stop, slowing down naturally will help cut down on brake use.
Signs It’s Time for a Check-Up
Having routine professional checks keeps any vehicle component in good condition, especially those designed to wear (like brake pads). Over time, heat and friction grind the pads, thinning them down and diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, other parts of the brake system will wear as well, including rotors, drums, calipers, brake hoses, brake shoes, and wheel cylinders. To be on the safe side, have the mechanic do a quick brake check with every oil change. And always contact a professional if you notice any of the following:
- Fluid Leaks
- An illuminated brake light
- Squeaking or grinding sounds when you brake
- The excessive force needed to stop the car
- Stiff brakes
- Soft brakes
Keeping an eye on your vehicle’s function and performance will help you stay safe and on top of minor problems that could become more difficult and expensive to repair if ignored.
If you need a brake system evaluation, remember to call the trained professionals at Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 and schedule an appointment today!