The weight of your vehicle and the constant amount of friction that your brakes are exposed to, especially while traveling at higher speeds, can quickly wear down your brake pads and place stress on the other parts of your brake system. This is why you brakes require regular maintenance and replacement to stay in good working order. Fortunately, there are a couple of things that you can do – or avoid doing – to improve your brakes' lifespan and save money on brake repairs in the long run.
Brake Fluid Flushes
Like all other fluids within your vehicle, your brake fluids will need to be properly flushed and replaced over time to ensure that your brakes are working as intended. Dirt and grime that get into the brake lines can reduce the ability of your brakes to actually engage when you press the pedal down, reducing responsiveness and increasing stopping distances. Flushing your brake fluid can remove this grime, and also provides your mechanic with a chance to inspect the brake lines themselves for signs of damage that could cause leaks or other complications.
Remove Excess Weight
Another relatively simple thing that you can do to make sure that your brakes are exposed to the least amount of strain possible is to remove any excess weight that your vehicle may be carrying. This can take the form of taking out old boxes and other things that may be collecting dust in your trunk, or removing things that you use only part of the year, such as bike or roof racks.
Prioritize Smooth Braking
Though this is easier said than done, one of the best things that you can do for the structural integrity of your brakes is to alter your braking behavior, slowing down gradually over a longer distance instead of slamming on your brakes as you get close to a red light or stop sign. This is best done through the absence of aggressive acceleration: driving at or near the speed limit means that you will not have to adjust your speed as often or as much, reducing brake wear and tear.
Replace Pads Regularly
Finally, the last and most obvious thing that you can do to improve the lifespan of your brake system is to have the brake pads replaced regularly. The exact amount of time and distance between brake pad replacement will vary depending on the type of brake pad that you have installed, but in general having your brake pads replaced every 50,000 miles or so is a good guideline. Talk to your mechanic for a more specific recommendation for your vehicle. Avoiding brake pad replacement can be costly, as brake calipers and rotors can begin to grind down if the pads are too thin, which represents much more serious and expensive damage to fix.