7 Ways to Maximize Brake Life
Brake life can vary significantly depending on several factors including the quality of parts, driving style, and even geography. However, there are still several practices by which you can prolong the life of your brakes.
1. Don’t Be A Speed Demon
The greatest enemy of brakes is speed. The higher the speed, the more effort is required by a vehicle’s braking system to bring it to a complete stop. In fact, it takes about 33% more energy (and more brake material) to stop a vehicle traveling at 65mph v. 55mph. Here at Virginia Tire & Auto, we recommend that you try and go the speed limit and even consider using a technique called coasting (see next tip).
2. Practice Coasting
Coasting is a technique where you take your foot off the gas pedal and let the vehicle slow down naturally (thanks to friction between tires and the road) before applying brakes. It is especially useful as you prepare to turn or see a traffic light and/or traffic slow-down ahead.
3. One Foot Only Please
Being an ambipedal (good with both feet) is not a good thing when it comes to brakes. Surely we are not the only ones who have seen a car driving at a constant speed or even accelerating while their brake lights are illuminated. This is a direct result of the driver pressing on the brake pedal with their left foot while simultaneously pressing the gas pedal with their right (also known as brake riding). This practice continuously wears down the pads and warps the rotors. Our experts recommend using only your right foot while resisting the urge to use both feet!
4. Don’t Be A Follower
Being a follower on the road is not always a good thing. Braking each time when someone in front of you unnecessarily brakes will cause your brakes to wear faster. Instead, consider the coasting technique mentioned previously but please remember that practicing this recommendation requires you to keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
5. Slimmer Is Better
Overloading a vehicle and adding additional weight can significantly impact the life of your brakes. Consider only carrying necessary items while leaving the rest behind. Also, consider the weight of aftermarket products before installing them on your vehicle since such parts can be heavier than their original equipment counterparts. Of course, if at all possible, consider buying a lighter vehicle, which will be easier on brakes, tires, gas and ultimately your wallet!
6. Flush Regularly
Brake fluid naturally attracts water, which can reduce the boiling point of the overall fluid inside the braking system. This condition can significantly reduce braking performance. The moisture can also lead to internal corrosion and can literally cause the parts to rot away. To prevent this from happening, we recommend replacing and/or flushing your brake fluid at regular intervals. Industry recommendation is to perform a brake fluid flush every 2 years (please refer to your owner’s manual for specific manufacturer recommendations for your make and model).
7. The Right Fit
Technological breakthroughs continue to improve braking performance while adding complexity to these parts. Many such parts are being designed for very specific uses. To make certain that the parts you are considering are the best option for you, please discuss your options with one of our ASE-certified technicians prior to making a purchase.