Depending on your driving style, the brakes on your car can either fail relatively quickly or last for many years. But you do not need to be the slowest drive on the road to make your brakes last. In fact, some small changes in how you drive will extend the lifetime of your brakes. If you try our suggestions but still go through brake pads and other components quickly, there may be a problem with your car. We recommend that you have the vehicle evaluated by a qualified mechanic. In addition to your driving style, several other factors may reduce the lifetime of your brakes, such as frequently traveling through mountains, having poor quality brake components or improper installation of the brakes.
Speed and Your Brakes
One of the quickest ways to wearing out your brakes is to routinely speed up your car and then apply the brakes hard. Your brakes have to manage 1/3 more energy when you stop from 65 MPH versus 55 MPH. The energy is changed into heat which is then absorbed by the brake components. Like other parts of your automobile, higher heat means more “wear and tear.”
Like oil, the brake fluid in your automobile should be changed according to the manufacturer recommendations. Your brake lines may also need to be flushed and bled. A qualified, experienced mechanic helps you keep track of when it’s time to replace your brake fluid as well as other brake components.
Choose the Right Replacement Parts
Brakes are very complicated, and price alone does not always translate into good performance. Expensive, high-use brake components may not last for economical drivers, and inexpensive brake parts may only mean that you replace your brakes more often than not. A professional mechanic helps you find the brake components that are right for your vehicle, budget and driving habits.
Inspect the Brakes
The brakes on your car should be inspected at least one time during the year. You can schedule the inspection at the same time as your tire rotation or oil change. The wheel should be removed to be able to examine all the relevant parts, so this is not a task for the everyday driver.
Downshifting is a common practice, and many people believe that doing so saves their brakes. Unfortunately, the practice actually stresses the transmission and clutch of your vehicle, both of which are far more costly than new brakes.
Coasting means that you are not applying the gas pedal or brake while allowing your vehicle to use existing momentum to move along the road. One of the best places to perform coasting is when you are going downhill. Another place to coast your vehicle before applying the brake is when you are exiting a highway on an off-ramp. Simply allow physics to take over and slow the vehicle gradually before you use the brakes. You should always maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and obey traffic signs, so coasting should be performed using good judgment as to when the brakes should be gently applied.
When you look a little further ahead on the road, you can anticipate when stoplights are going to change; traffic is backing up and other situations that will require braking. You can coast a bit to slow down the vehicle before applying the brakes.
Keep It Light
Stopping a heavier vehicle places more stress on brake components when compared to a similar, lighter vehicle. Carrying large or heavy items in your trunk or the bed of your truck can add weight, as can larger wheels and tires. More weight on your vehicle also means lower gas mileage and “wear and tear” on other components, such as tires. Make it a habit to empty your trunk or bed of any unnecessary items, and consider the additional weight of upsizing your tires and wheels.
Only Use One Foot
Many people are surprised when we make this recommendation because the foot you use to apply the brakes may not seem like an issue. The problem with using your right foot for the gas pedal and your left foot for the brake pedal is that you are more likely to ride your brakes, meaning that you simultaneously apply the brake and accelerator. Using only your right foot also eliminates inadvertent taps on the brake pedal.
Know the Road
On your daily drives, you may notice that other drivers tend to slow down in certain places, such as just before a bend in the road. In these areas, use your knowledge of other driver habits combined with coasting. You can take your foot off the gas pedal and allow the vehicle to slow down on its own before applying the brakes. Again, good judgment should be used in these situations.
Use Your Own Judgment
People apply their brakes in traffic for many reasons, some necessary, some not. We all have an automatic reaction to apply our brakes when we see brake lights in front of us. If you notice that the car in front of you only momentarily lit the brake lights, wait a few seconds to see if you truly need to apply the brakes. In the meantime, simply let your car coast to lose some amount of speed.
Following our recommendations for taking care of your brakes will ensure that your brake components will last the expected lifetime. You may even notice that your fuel efficiency improves. For more information about brake tune-ups and maintenance, contact Dallas European Auto today to schedule an appointment.