Solid brakes that you can rely on are critical to your safety on the roads. That's why it's important to have your brakes serviced regularly and serviced when required. However, a trained mechanic can charge you an average of $349 or more per axle when you have your brakes done. It makes sense, then, to try and get the most life out of your new brakes.
The good news is that a few changed habits can make a significant difference in the wear and tear that your brakes experience every day. Making these changes is simple, and you'll benefit from reduced pad wear and additional protection from damage to your rotors.
Habit #1--Keep Your Speed In Check
Speeding is a problem on the roads--almost 10,000 people died on the roads in 2011 due to speed-related accidents. Speeding also takes a toll on your brakes. After all, it takes more pressure to stop your vehicle when traveling 75mph than it does when you're moving at 60mph. Simple physics tells us that.
However, top speed isn't the only speed-related issue for your brakes. If you tend to accelerate quickly while driving in town, you'll find yourself stopping abruptly for red lights and pedestrians more often. Allowing your car to slow to a gradual stop in town is critical to long brake life, and it's almost impossible when you're accelerating constantly.
Habit #2--Look Ahead
It's natural, when driving in traffic, to focus on the vehicle in front of you. That said, when you only notice the car ahead, you're required to react to their actions in real time. If you were looking ahead, you could easily anticipate when they might need to come to a stop and reduce your speed beforehand.
Practice looking through the windshield or over the roof of the car ahead of you for:
- Red lights
- Turning motorists
That way, you won't be pressing the gas pedal when you need to make a quick stop. You'll be a safer, more alert motorist and your brakes will last longer as well.
Habit #3--Travel Light
Many folks use the trunk of their car for storage. This is particularly true for golfers, bowlers, and any hobbyist that requires heavy equipment to participate in their favorite pastimes. Physics tells us that the formula for momentum is equal to:
- Momentum = Mass x Velocity
In simple terms, reducing either your speed or your weight will reduce your momentum--making it easier to come to a stop. While 100 lbs of bowling equipment or a large toolbox might not seem like much mass when compared to the weight of your car, every little bit helps over the long term. Keep your car's weight down, and you'll stop easier and more quickly.
Habit #4--Be An Individual
When you're in the flow of traffic, it's easy to instinctively react the same way that everyone else does. The next time you're riding in the passenger seat, watch the driver. You'll notice that they tend to drift when the car ahead of them does, and they'll also accelerate and brake in sync with the lead car, too.
Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of unnecessary braking. The road isn't full of people with perfect driving habits, and many folks will accelerate and brake when it isn't a good idea. If you fall into these instinctive pitfalls, you'll add a lot of unnecessary wear to your tires and your brakes. Practice staying alert and aware of your actions while driving, so that you are aware of your choices behind the wheel.
While these habits will certainly extend the life of your brakes, safety is always the most important thing. Once you start to feel that your brakes are soft and ineffective, you shouldn't try to extend their life any longer. That said, if a few driving habits can make your trips safer and easier on your brakes, that's definitely a good thing.