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1987 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class - minimizing brake wear

I own a 1987 MB 560SL. I love the look of it and enjoy driving it. My unhappiness is with the carbon brakes (#1 pencil lead). They are dirty and expensive to replace (can’t go to a “Brake’s R US”). The city I live in has boulevards with 55 mph speed limits with interspersed traffic lights. My question regards how best to stop the car to minimize brake wear. If I see the light turn red about 100 yds. ahead, should I gently press on the pedal for the whole distance, pump several times, or coast up to the light and firmly stop? Would appreciate your advice to reduce my “carbon footprint”

Thanks for continuing an informative an entertaining tradition.


I drive in similar conditions. In those cases I do not use overdrive, slightly helps with slowing without brakes. It is minor but might be helpful.

Switch to ceramic brake linings. They are far less dirty. You likely have carbon metallic or just metallic brake pads.

Don’t pump your brakes. Look far ahead as you drive. Anticipate stops. Coast rather than brake, if possible. Light brake apply. Wash your wheels regularly to remove the dust.

I see that brake pads sell for less that $20 a set for just fronts and less for rears. Not expensive at all… unless of course you are only using the dealer for this. If you are using the dealer, stop. You don’t have to go to brakes-R-us, but any good independent repair shop can do this simple repair.

What @Mustangman said. I would also find one (or more) SL forums and see what they say, I’m sure there are MANY discussions about what brake pads work best without all the mess.

Edit - I would also do nothing that stresses any other part of your car, like downshifting the tranny (keeping it out of overdrive is fine around town). Brake pads are CHEAP compared to your transmission.

Also - note that your car is often referred to as one of the R107 MBs by owners (same basic chassis as the 450SL and 380SL). So brake pads suggested for them may well work for yours.

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