Every component of your vehicle plays an important role in overall function and longevity, but the brakes are arguably one of the most crucial. Few things are scarier than the thought of hitting the brakes only to have them give out! Taking care of your brakes and having regular inspections not only gives you peace of mind for the safety of you and your family, it also helps you save money in costly repairs and brake replacements. This article will give you some of our top tips, as ASE Certified Mechanic Technicians, to get the most out of your brakes and keep them strong for the long haul.
Extending The Longevity Of Your Brakes
Just like any other component of your vehicle, going easy on your brakes can significantly extend the life of your brake system. While you’re driving, try lifting off the gas and coasting in advance to slow down, rather than waiting for the last minute to press on the brake pedal. The less pressure you put on your brakes, the better. When going downhill, avoid riding the brakes by only accelerating slightly at the top of the hill and let the momentum carry you down, rather than continually switching between the accelerator and brakes.Shifting into a lower gear also allows your car’s engine to help hold you back so you don’t have to hit the brakes as often on a long downhill. Also, practice keeping a safe distance behind other vehicles so you won’t have to hit the brakes if the car in front of you stops suddenly. Give yourself plenty of room to coast behind other vehicles.
You should also avoid hitting the accelerator and brakes at the same time. This may seem like a no brainer, but people who drive with two feet will often overlap the shift from brake to accelerator. It’s best to drive with just one foot to avoid this problem. 2-foot drivers spend lots of money on new brakes!
Keeping your vehicle load as light as possible can also help to extend the longevity of your brakes. The heavier your car is, the more work the brakes have to do to stop your wheels from moving. Keeping your vehicle lightly loaded as much as possible will be easier on your brakes, tires, gas tank, and, of course, your wallet!
Regular Brake Maintenance
Your brake pads are often one of the first components of your brake system to wear down. Brake pads help your car to stop the wheels from moving using friction. Your brake pads should have more than ⅛” of padding to work properly. If you hear a metallic screeching noise when you brake, it’s definitely time to take it in!
Your braking system should be inspected once per year. If they are too worn to work safely, it’s important to have them replaced right away. You should also check your brake fluid regularly. This is something you can do yourself if you’re familiar with how to do it or you can include it as part of your regular vehicle inspection at Main Street Mechanic. If your brake fluid is too dark/dirty, it’s no longer effective at transferring heat to all parts of the brake system and absorbing water (an essential process for working brakes) and should be flushed.
Brake fluid attracts water which reduces braking performance over time. This can lead to corrosion and rotting parts of your braking system. We recommend getting a brake fluid flush every 2 years or 25,000 miles. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your make and model.
It’s also important to listen to your vehicle for warning signs that your brakes are wearing down. Unusual noises, delayed or touchy brake response, vibrations or difficulty in pressing on the brakes may all be indicators that you have a dangerous problem in your brake system.
When having your brakes replaced, make sure to invest in the best quality you can afford. They may cost a little extra, but your brakes are one of the most critical parts of your vehicle’s safety and are definitely worth the added expense. Top of the line brakes will make a significant difference in the long run in terms of efficiency, safety, and durability.
Have Your Brakes Inspected and Replaced By Professionals
Practicing these tips and keeping an eye (and ear) out for any signs of wearing down can help extend the life of your brakes and keep you safe. However, there are many brake problems that only a practiced eye can catch. An annual safety inspection will enable us to catch any problems, including issues with your brakes. We also offer a more in-depth brake inspection specifically to examine any signs of problems, including unevenly worn brake pads. If you haven’t had an inspection in over a year - or if you hear or see signs that your brakes are wearing out - call us today to make an appointment at Main Street Mechanic, your friendly neighborhood mechanic in American Fork.