When your vehicle's brakes begin to give you cues that they need to be replaced – squealing and decreased stopping response, for example – it's important to react quickly and visit your local auto shop for a brake job. However, if your brakes are still proving themselves to be healthy, there are a number of ways that you can extend their life without compromising your safety on the road. These three methods require that you make some changes to your driving habits, but all can be effective at extending the lifespan of your brakes.
Break Your Tailgating Habit
It can be easy to follow too closely behind other vehicles, especially during rush hour. This close-quarters following, however, can be detrimental to the longevity of your brakes. Tailgating often leads to frequent tapping of the brakes and occasional "riding of the brakes" as you're being careful to avoid rear-ending the lead driver. Additionally, if you find yourself behind someone who frequently taps his or her brakes, you'll often involuntarily follow suit. Backing off means you'll be using your brakes less and extending their life.
Research Your Route In Advance
You don't have to have your expected driving route fully memorized, but having an approximate idea of the route you'll be facing whenever you leave your home can help you avoid unnecessarily wearing your brakes. For example, if you take few minutes to look at your route online before traveling, you might see something such as a sharp turn. This advanced knowledge means that instead of approaching the turn at a quick speed and having to brake hard, you can slowly decrease your speed by coasting as you approach the turn. Simple changes of this nature lead to considerably less braking, which can prolong your need for a brake job.
Lighten Your Load
The heavier your vehicle is, the harder you'll need to brake in order to reduce your speed. By lightening the weight that you're carrying, you'll need less braking pressure, which will help to extend the life of the brakes. Take a look at your trunk and see if you're carrying anything heavy that you don't need. While it might be convenient to leave your golf bag and clubs in the trunk, for example, the reality is that leaving them at home unless you need them will prolong the life of your brakes.
For more tips, talk with your local brake mechanic or Elkhart Auto Center.