Extending the Life of Your Car's Brakes

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Living in rugged terrain can mean you put a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle, particularly the brakes. If you live in a colder climate where it snows often, or you live in mountainous areas, your car's brakes might not last as long as someone who lives in a flat, more temperate climate. Here are a few tips to help you extend the life of your brakes so you can stay safe and save money.

Brake the Right Way When Driving in the Mountains

As you're driving over a pass or up a hill, it's best to drive your car in lower gear when you're heading downhill. Simply put your vehicle in the gear that will let you drive at a safer and slower speed as you go downward. Lightly apply pressure to the brakes at intervals rather than all at once. Five second intervals of brake application is best as you start to pick up speed. Pumping the brakes this way lets the drum and rotors cool and prevents excess wear and tear. Drivers who constantly ride the brake downhill create unnecessary friction that can wear down all of the components of the braking system including the pads, shoes, calipers, drums and even the fluid. When it's slick or icy, keep your car in normal gear but be sure to steadily apply pressure to the brake pedal as you go downhill.

Pace Yourself

Too often, drivers wait until the last minute to apply the brakes, particularly in heavy traffic or at stoplights. Instead, slowly decelerate and let your vehicle naturally slow down as you approach a stopped or slowing vehicle. Then, apply the brakes lightly until you come to a complete stop. This also applies on the freeway. If you notice cars slowing down at a far enough distance ahead, simply slow down first and let your engine help slow the car down rather than applying the brakes too early. Less frequent or strong pressure will extend the brake's lifespan.

Follow the 3-Second Rule

The 3-second rule is not only a safe way to drive, but it can also help your brakes last longer. While you drive, make sure the vehicle in front of you is always approximately three seconds ahead so you can stop in time if you need to. An easy way to do this is to choose a fixed object like a building or sign, and then count to three as the car in front of you passes. Those three seconds should go by until you pass the same object. Sticking to this rule gives you plenty of extra time to brake, and can prevent you from having to "slam" on the brakes if the car in front of you comes to a complete stop. For brake service, contact a Calgary auto repair professional.


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