Top Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Car's Brakes

Brakes play a crucial role in keeping you and your passengers safe on the road; thankfully, brakes are durable and capable of lasting tens of thousands of miles. However, there are many things you can do to make them last even longer. From simple maintenance tasks to smart driving habits, here’s some practical advice that can make a real difference in preserving your brakes and saving you money in the long run!

Take it Slow

Driving at high speeds can cause a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on your brakes. If you’re driving fast and need to stop, the friction and heat generated can quickly deteriorate your brake pads—and in some cases, it can even warp your rotors. To prevent this, it’s best to drive at lower speeds, especially in heavy traffic, and avoid sudden braking. Not only is this safer, but it reduces the strain on your brakes when you need to come to a stop. Allowing your car to coast and naturally decelerate before applying the brakes can also help minimize wear and tear.

Allow Plenty of Stopping Distance

As mentioned above, sudden braking puts extra strain on your brakes. While you can’t avoid emergency braking (like when you’re cut off in traffic or a deer darts into your lane) you can reduce how much you need to brake by giving yourself plenty of stopping distance. Avoid tail gaiting other cars and prepare for upcoming stop signs and stop lights. By looking ahead and applying gentle braking when needed, you can prevent excessive wear and help your brake pads last longer.

Use Engine Braking

If you’re driving downhill or hauling a heavy load in a manual or automatic that lets you change gears manually, consider using engine braking. Engine braking uses the transmission downshifting gears to slow the vehicle and reduce the reliance on your brakes. However, it’s important to remember that engine braking alone can’t bring your vehicle to a complete stop, so always keep an eye out for obstacles and get ready to hit the brakes if needed.

Don’t Brake with Your Left Foot

Some drivers like to keep one foot on the gas and one on the brake, but this can encourage braking while actively accelerating--which can quickly wear down your brake pads. If you drive an automatic, make sure to keep your left foot off the pedals and only use your right foot for acceleration and braking.

Lighten the Load

The more weight you have on your vehicle, the more strain it puts on your brakes. Although you may not have heavy objects in your car, any additional weight adds up. For this reason, it’s best to remove any unnecessary items you have stored in your vehicle. Not only will this help improve your vehicle's overall performance and fuel efficiency, but it will also reduce the wear and tear on your brakes.

Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive involves being proactive in assessing potential driving hazards, whether it’s another driver or a large pothole in the road. By making a habit of looking ahead while driving and anticipating road conditions, you can maintain a steady speed and reduce the need for frequent braking. For example, rather than reactively tapping your brakes because the car in front of you did, you can keep a longer following distance in traffic and let up off the accelerator. By practicing defensive driving techniques, you can minimize wear and tear on your brakes and ensure a smoother, safer driving experience.

Keep Up with Regular Inspections & Brake Maintenance

Whenever you take your car for routine maintenance, make sure to ask for a brake inspection. The technicians will examine the brake pads, rotors, and fluid, as well as remove any debris that could cause damage. By catching potential issues early, you can replace worn brake pads before they lead to more serious and costly damage, which ultimately saves you money on brake repairs. It's also a good idea to have your brakes inspected during wheel alignments, tire rotations, or balancing sessions.

Squealing noises or increased stopping distances are signs that you should schedule brake maintenance or repairs. Following your vehicle's maintenance schedule listed in your owner’s manual will ensure your brakes stay well-maintained and help prevent costly repairs.

Schedule Brake Service Today

If you need a brake inspection, maintenance, or repairs, visit the pros at RPM Automotive Services! We’re an ASE and ASCCA-certified shop that’s been serving the community since 1982. Our technicians stay current on the latest developments in automotive technology and repair procedures, so you can feel confident we’ll have your vehicle back on the road in no time. From oil changes to custom engines, we do it all. For expert auto care, contact us today at (707) 800-4586 or request an appointment online.

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