Knowing When To Replace Your Brake Pads

brake descriptionJust as your gas mileage will vary depending on where and how you drive, so it goes with the life of brake pads (or linings), the friction material that gets pressed against a metal disc or drum to stop your vehicle.

If you drive only 8,000 miles a year but it’s mainly in a crowded urban area such as Chicago, Boston or Washington, D.C., you will need to replace brake pads more often than someone who drives 28,000 miles a year across the flatlands of Nebraska. You use your brakes a lot more in urban driving than on a rural highway.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut schedule that tells you when it’s time to replace the brakes, so you need to rely on your ears and the advice of an experienced automotive technician. Most vehicles should have their tires rotated at least every six months, and that is a good time to have the brakes inspected, as well. A mechanic can check the thickness of the pads and the condition of the brake hardware to spot wear.

Many cars have built-in wear sensors that scrape against a brake disc when the linings needed replacing. The driver will hear an annoying screeching sound when they apply the brakes (or when the brakes are released on some vehicles).

Those sensors aren’t on every vehicle, so drivers should listen for squeaks, squeals, grinding (often a sign that brake pads are entirely gone) and other noises that indicate wear. Some minor noises can be eliminated by cleaning the brakes, but persistent, prominent noises usually mean parts are worn. Other signs are pulsations through the brake pedal, longer stopping distances, or when you apply the brakes your foot goes down further, closer to the floor. Because brake linings wear gradually, you may not notice the demise in performance, so that’s where the experienced eye of a mechanic can help.

All cars have a brake warning light that comes on for a few seconds every time you start your car. If it comes on while driving, that probably means your brake system is low on fluid because of a leak or a problem with the brake master cylinder. Note that this is not the same warning light that comes on when you apply the hand- or foot-operated parking brake.

All cars and light trucks also have front disc brakes. Most have rear discs, as well, though some lower-priced cars still come with rear drum brakes. With discs, it has been common practice to just replace the brake pads and resurface the rotors on a lathe if needed so the surface is even and smooth.

In recent years, however, more automakers have switched to rotors that are lighter and thinner to reduce weight and save money. Discs used to last through two or three resurfacings, but don’t be surprised if when it’s time to replace the pads you’re told you also need new rotors. The current ones may not have enough material to be shaved off in resurfacing and may not be as durable as those from, say, 10 or more years ago.

By Rick P.

cars.com

 

 

 

By John Hoffner • May 2, 2013 • 4:31 pm • Leave a comment

Maintain Current Vehicle to Keep New Car Costs at Bay

Buying a new car might sound good in theory, but these days, a new car purchase is out of reach for many Americans, according to a recent CNBC report. With the average cost of a new vehicle higher than ever at $30,500, spending a fraction of that money on making your current vehicle last longer makes good financial sense, says the Car Care Council.

“Hanging on to your current vehicle allows you to redirect money you would spend on a new car to pay off credit card debt, college loans and other bills, beef up savings or even take a road trip vacation,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “By simply budgeting the equivalent of just one new car payment, consumers could cover an entire year’s worth of basic maintenance.”

Even if serious engine trouble strikes, keeping your current vehicle is the sensible economic decision. For the cost of an average down payment on a new car or truck, a vehicle can be repowered with a remanufactured/rebuilt engine and gain years of reliable service without monthly car payments and higher insurance rates.

“In the early 1970s, you could buy a house for $30,000, and the average vehicle cost $3,900 but didn’t last anywhere near as long as cars do today. Now, the average age of passenger vehicles is 10.8 years, the oldest ever,” said White. “With proper routine maintenance, the typical vehicle should deliver at least 200,000 miles of safe, dependable, efficient and enjoyable performance.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

By Amanda Cox • March 29, 2013 • 8:48 am • Leave a comment

Economics of Maintenance For Houston Auto Owners

Buying a new car in Houston is always a big financial decision. The allure of that new car smell is powerful, to be sure. But what if your current car is still in good shape? How do you decide?

People in Houston who’ve been used to driving a new car every three to five years may be having second thoughts in this economy. For many, the question is, how does the certainty of a new car payment stack up against uncertain repairs for a car that may be out of warranty?

For purposes of our discussion, let’s assume you live right here in Houston and have a five year old vehicle. It’s now paid off. If you keep it, you fear that there’ll be some repairs over the next five years, but you really don’t know what to expect. For help we turned to Edmunds.com.

Edmunds.com has compiled maintenance and repair information for cars and trucks. With this data, they project likely service and repair costs for a particular make and model. They’re able to use manufacturer’s maintenance schedules and repair histories for the projections.

Of course, these projections can’t predict what will happen to your vehicle in Houston, but they do give you information to use in your decision.

Let’s look at the numbers for a five year old Toyota Camry V-6. In this example, the combined maintenance and repairs for the five year period is $5,748. This works out to an average of $96 a month. The year-by-year averages range from a low of $49 a month to $124 a month.

So compare $96 a month with a new car payment. And it’s actually better news than that; you would still have maintenance expenses with a new car, so the repair element could be less than half that figure.

Here are numbers for some other five year old vehicles from around Houston:

Ford Escape – $116 a month
Chevy Silverado – $131 a month
Jeep Grand Cherokee – $138 a month
Hyundai Accent – $85 a month.
Now, if your vehicle is older than five years, have a chat with your Houston service advisor at Mobile Tune Up and Repair. We see hundreds of vehicles through our bays every month and we know your car. See if there’s any particular problem common with your vehicle that you might see over the next couple of years.

And of course, the best way to keep future repair costs down is to take care of all your scheduled maintenance. This is especially important in older vehicles that have had time to accumulate some deposits.

There are special motor oil formulations that help clean older engines and protect and recondition their seals and gaskets.

We hope this eliminates some of the unknowns in the decision to keep or trade.

Give us a call if you have any questions:
Mobile Tune Up and Repair
17807 Kieth Harrow Blvd
Houston, TX 77084
281-463-4211

By Amanda Cox • February 26, 2013 • 7:08 pm • Leave a comment
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