Do I Need Brakes?
Q: How long do brakes last? I have 37,000 miles on my car and have never replaced my brakes. How do I know when it is time to replace my brakes?
A: Do not rely on brake warning lights, there is no better way of knowing when you need brakes then a brake inspection.
There are several indicators used on vehicles some vehicles have metal wear sensors on the brake pads that contact the rotors when the brakes are low creating a squeal. Others use a float in the master cylinder, as your brakes wear the caliper piston move out making more room for brake fluid in the caliper in turn the brake fluid in the master cylinder becomes low and the brake light is triggered. Be sure not to add brake fluid to the master cylinder on these models of you will not get a warning. And lastly most high end vehicles have wear sensors built into or attached to the brake pad, the pads wear down to the sensor and the low brake warning light will indicate low brake pads on the dashboard. Some models use a combination of these.
Driver habits and the driving conditions in which a vehicle is driven is what in most cases determine how long brakes will last. If you drive long distances on open freeways you are not stopping often (Excluding I95 through Fairfield County) and therefore your brakes will last longer. If you drive in the city often you are always on the brakes and you will need brakes sooner. If you use the vehicle for commercial use and carry a lot of weight you are slowing down a heavier vehicle and brake pads will wear excessively. People who drive vehicles with manual transmissions and drive long distances do the best as far as brake wear goes. So as you can see there is no good answer as to how long brakes should last.
All these systems have their flaws. Brake sensors whether electrical or mechanical are not put on all of the brake pads, if a pad without a sensor wears out first you will wear the brake pad into the rotor without warning. If someone adds brake fluid to your master cylinder you again lost your warning.
Regardless of the type of driving that you do or the low brake indication system your car has, there is no substitute for inspecting all four wheels of your brake system every 12 months or 12,000 miles. Ask if there is a charge for a brake inspection first. Most places will not charge for the inspection. For the most part, the difference between a minor brake repair and a major one is catching small problems before they become major ones.
Ask us your brake related questions e-mail Bill Pelletier, President, Brake Centers of America or contact us on our website www.BrakeCenters.com. For a free brake inspection stop in to one of our Connecticut stores.
Bridgeport, North 4315 Main St. – Stratford, 1103 Barnum Ave. – Stamford, 859 East Main St.