Monday, July 2, 2012

What You Know About Your Brakes Could Save You Money

I often get questions about brake pads. How do I know when  it’s time to replace them? How many miles will I get out of a set of pads? How do I know I’m  not getting ripped off when they tell me I need brakes?

First of all, you control how long your brake pads last. You know that person in front of you that starts braking two blocks before the stop sign, well, when I was working in the shop, I loved them! Why? Because whenever your foot is pushing on the brake pedal while the vehicle is moving, the brake pads are wearing.

When I told this to a class once, one of the women said “does that mean I should brake less?” NO, just be smart about it. Let’s say that the average driver needs to replace brake pads about every 30,000  miles. That person I talked about earlier that starts braking way before it’s time, well they may need to replace them every 15,000 miles. You see where I’m going with this? More money spent on replacing pads.

Brake pads are made to wear. You can’t stop them from wearing, just how fast they wear. There are a couple ways that you can check your pads.

The most obvious way is if the brake light comes on on the dash. This is an indication of low brake fluid, which could mean that your pads are worn or you have a brake fluid leak. Of course, the parking brake turns this light on as well, so make sure you take the brake off. Driving with the parking brake on is not good.

While I’m talking about brake fluid, as a vehicle owner, if you don’t know why the fluid is low, you should never add brake fluid to the reservoir. This does not fix your problem, it just covers it up for a while. Get a technician to figure out what is wrong.

When you do take it to a shop and they tell you that you need new pads, ask to see them. It’s best if you can see them on the vehicle so that you know the pad is really yours. Any reputable shop will be happy to take you out in the shop and explain the problem. If they won’t, then take it your vehicle somewhere else, you probably are getting ripped off. In the state of Pennsylvania, less than 2/32 fails inspection. By 4 or 3/32 you should be thinking about replacing them.

Brake pads are all about safety and shops know this. What better way to get you to buy a service than to tell you it won’t be safe to drive unless you fix them. Keep track of  the mileage between brake jobs and you’ll start to see a pattern of when your brakes need to be replaced. There are a lot of honest technicians out there, so don’t jump to the conclusion that everyone is trying to take advantage of you. Ask questions and if you don’t like the answers, find someone you trust.

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