Friday, March 30, 2012

Time To Maintain Your Brake System

Timing is everything in determining when to replace your brake pads. The wrong time is after you have attempted to stop, but were aided by whatever it was that actually brought the vehicle to a complete stop!

Putting off servicing your braking system can increase your repair costs, or in the event of the above accident, can cost you collision repair cost on your vehicle and whatever it is you used as a backup brake. And, the good thing is, your brakes will tell you when they are wearing down!!

The first thing you will notice is an extremely high pitched squeal when you are coming to a stop. The manufacturers of brake pads include an indicator, which is a little piece of metal on the pad. When the pad wears down to less than 1/4” of material, the indicator touches the vehicle's rotor, making a noise that will make your teeth ache, much like when the class bully would run his fingernails on the chalkboard on his way out of the room with the teacher as she took him to the principle's office. What this is telling you is that you need to get the brakes serviced, preferably within the month, depending on your driving schedule. But regardless of how much you drive, the sooner, the safer.

Now, some bad news, sometimes many aftermarket and lower priced pads don't come with a wear indicator. But, an informed person can be watchful of other signs that it is time to replace those pads. One way, if it takes you longer than normal to stop, or if the brake pedal has more travel in it than before, it's a good bet that you need to inspect your pads. This can be achieved by removing the wheel and knowing what to look for.

Rotors can be a little harder, as they will last through two or three sets of brake pads. A wiggly steering when stopping is a good indication that the rotors are probably warped and it is time to replace.

Another option is 'turning' your rotors, which is an option in some cases. This is done at your mechanics, where they will shave off enough of the metal from the rotors to make them smooth. Most newer vehicles are equipped with thinner, lighter rotors to save on costs and increase fuel economy. If you find that you are replacing the rotors often, you might consider switching to a slotted version. While more expensive, the slots disperse heat better than the standard stock rotors. For most drivers, this added expense isn't necessary.

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Another option for better performance is upgrading your brake pads to ceramic pads. The ceramic pads work just as well or better, than the stock pads. They produce much less dust and are generally quieter. And there are performance pads, but I don't recommend them for the average driver as they have a short life span and cause more wear on the rotors.

To paraphrase my father (and whoever he stole it from) “An ounce of preventive maintenance, is worth a pound of towing bills!”

April is “National Car Care Month”, so regardless if you are going to do it yourself, or take it to your trusted local mechanic, take a weekend in April to checkout your ride. Check those fluids, topping off the ones that need it. Don't forget the windshield fluid, radiator coolant (check your vehicle maintenance book to see what type of coolant your radiator uses), brake fluid, power steering fluid. Now is a good time to change your engine oil. Check those brake pads, inspect your tires for tread, wear and weather damage (dry rot). Lube the chassis. And it would not hurt to get inside that car and rub some type of protectant on your dash, console, side panels, etc.... the inside of the vehicle needs maintenance too you know. Take care of your ride, it will take you places that others can only get to in their minds....... (LOL).

Advance Auto Parts stocks everything you need to do your maintenance and repairs.  They also offer the convenience of shopping on line and picking up an hour later at your local store, so you are in and out and on your way to completing your project that much faster, and by clicking below, and use the promotion code, you get a great discount to boot!!

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Remember to check back to our blog often, as Dee, Larry and I will be posting more on vehicle maintenance and repairs.   Leave us a comment on our posts, make suggestions for future stories, or tell us about your projects.  And like us on Facebook -

Til next time - Betty

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