Five Popular Brake Questions Answered by Auto Experts
When it comes to operating your vehicle safely, there is no system more important than your brakes. While many people understand this and take their brake maintenance seriously, there are a number of common questions out there that can sometimes be difficult to find an answer to. So to help you better understand your brakes and what you need to know about them as a car owner, our auto repair experts here at Christian Brothers Automotive have compiled a list of five of the most common brake-related questions we receive into this blog, and offer you some helpful answers and advice about them.
What Is an Antilock Brake System?
When you go to buy a new car, you may notice the term “Antilock brake system” or “ABS” listed under your vehicle’s safety features. This is a feature where your car’s computer monitors how you stop and works to keep your car stable throughout your braking, specifically when you have to hit the brakes hard.
When you hit the brakes too hard, you can lock up your wheels which causes your car to skid on your tires. Your ABS’s job is to prevent this skidding, keeping your car rolling while still slowing down. Why is this important? Because if you need to steer to avoid an obstacle while hitting your brakes, not having traction means you won’t actually change direction. In fact, locking up the brakes actually makes your car even more unstable and difficult to control, and that’s the last thing you need when trying to avoid an accident. While your ABS doesn’t shorten your stopping distance (it can actually increase it for a normal stop), it does prevent your car from losing control, which is a huge increase in safety.
How Often Should I Change My Pads?
Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this one. The actual number of miles before you change your brake pads depends on your driving style and habits, the type of pads you get, and how well you maintain your vehicle. Some pads need replaced after as little as around 25,000 miles, but others can last as much as 70,000 miles. For most people, 50,000 miles is about the number you should have to replace your pads by, but it’s best to have your mechanic inspect your brake pads every time you have your oil changed and tires rotated. Likewise, if you feel any scraping or hear a squealing noise every time you hit the brakes, your pads are due for a change and should be replaced immediately.
How Often Should I Change My Rotors?
Your brake pads are only one of the things that actually wears out in your brake system. While the pads need replacement more often, your rotors also need to be replaced periodically. Rotors are the metal discs which your pads grip onto in order to slow your vehicle down, and while the metal wears far slower than the pads do, it does eventually need to be replaced.
Depending on what type of rotor you have and the minimum specifications you need to keep your car safe, you may have the option to simply turn your rotors or resurface them. This is when your mechanic simply grinds any minor flaws or nicks out of them, polishes them, and puts them back on your car. This can extend the life of your rotors further, but rotors that are too worn or thin can’t be resurfaced without becoming unsafe. You should have your rotors inspected every time you change your brake pads, but likewise you probably will only need to change your rotors every second or third time you replace your brake pads.
Are Slotted or Drilled Rotors Better?
When you have to replace your brake rotors, you may have the option of buying drilled or slotted rotors, especially if you have a sports or other high-performance car. There’s some debate out there as to whether these types of rotors are better, but the truth is for theaverage driver who’s essentially just commuting and driving around town, a slotted or drilled rotor isn’t worth the extra cost. The slots or holes are designed to increase cooling and heat dispersion, and your brakes aren’t going to get nearly hot enough to make that a necessity. They may look cooler, but you aren’t going to see any increase in performance for the extra price.
What Brake Fluid Should I Use?
There are different grades of brake fluid on the market, which are graded using a Department of Transportation number. The primary difference between grades is the impact that heat and moisture have on the fluid itself, impacting how well your car can stop. Fluids are all required to be backwards compatible, which means you can put a higher DOT fluid in a lower DOT system. In other words, if your car calls for DOT 3 fluid, you can put DOT 5.1 fluid in and have it work just fine. However, it doesn’t work the other way—you can’t put DOT 3 fluid in a DOT 5.1 brake system.
There are a few different factors which influence which type of brake fluid you need: your car’s age, its size, and whether it’s equipped with antilock brakes. However, there’s no set standard. While most modern vehicles will use DOT 4 or DOT 5 brake fluid, it’s important to consult your owners’ manual to figure out which one your vehicle needs.
About Christian Brothers Automotive
Christian Brothers Automotive provides exceptional brake services for all different makes and models of vehicles. Whether your car is brand new and has the latest in antilock braking technology or older and has a simple, manual brake system, we can help you with everything from brake pad changes to rotor and caliper replacements and everything in between. Plus we even offer a comfortable waiting area and even a convenience shuttle.
Schedule a brake service by calling your local Christian Brothers Automotive location today!
Posted by, Christian Brothers Automotive