Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Her brakes wore out too fast

Regarding the caller who wore out her brakes too fast, and your answer that she drives too fast, I disagree! Brakes don’t wear out from driving too fast but from decelerating too often and too fast. The causes of the latter are from 1) tailgating and 2) failing to slow down by coasting when it is obvious that there is a stop or delay coming up down the road a ways. Of course the two go together most of the time. I am a fast driver. I accelerate rapidly into open spaces in traffic and lag behind when there is no place to go. I very seldom, compared to other drivers on the road in front of me, have to use my brakes.

If I were married I should be dripping in jewelry by now. I just had 90K service done on my 2000 Honda CR-V. I still had 40% on the rear brakes and 30% on the front. I’m hoping the original brakes last at least 15 years.

I think the caller would benefit by remedial driving lessons with a cheapskate like me.

I have another thought about why her brakes ware out so fast. A friend of mine used to drive with his left foot on the brake all the time so that his brake lights were always on. He used to go through brakes way too often as well even though he didn’t speed. I’ve seen a number of other cars who’s brake lights would be on all the time or going off and on while driving on the freeway and no one was in front of them. My friends excuse was “I do that because that’s how race car drivers do it.” I don’t know any race car drivers to confirm that but I’m sceptical.

The only race car drivers that ride the brake pedal during the race are the ones that always lose. Think about it.

They never asked if she was a 2 footed driver, maybe she is like some I have followed with the brake lights going off every 15 seconds weather needed or not.

Another possibility is what I would call “Short Trips!” Brake wear is all about how often and how hard to use them. Take a lot of short trips and the brakes are going to wear fast (in comparison to the miles)

It seemed to me that what the caller does is drive fast even when it is clear that she will have to stop ahead, such as when there is a red traffic light with a line of cars so that even if the light changes she’ll have to brake. Not only does this kind of driving wear the brakes down more quickly but it also uses up gasoline giving her poorer mileage. Taking your foot off the gas pedal and coasting to lights, stop signs, etc. uses far less gas. With the price of gasoline rising rapidly these days it seems to me that wasting gas is pretty foolish, too.

Aggressive driving is a proven gas and brake waster. The real irony is that aggressive driving does so little to increase average speed. Aggressive drivers mostly spend a larger percentage of their trip time going zero miles per hour while stopped at red lights.

I think that her rear brakes are out of adjustment and that is the reason of her brakes wearing out so fast. Adjust the rear brakes and start using the emergency brakes to keep the rear brakes adjusted. It will extend the life of the front brakes.

There were several clues about this. She also said she doesn’t drive a manual transmission well. I drive my Subaru like it wants to be driven and I’ve got 48k on the original pads. She must be riding the brakes with her left foot.

I agree. Click and Clack passed judgement and quit thinking before reaching a more obvious solution: Get that foot off the brake when braking is not needed.

As for brake life, it matters a lot as to the vehicle. My 1993 Infiniti G20, 2000 Avalon, 2001 Sonoma, all were well on their way to 100k miles on original brake pads. My daily commute is 10 miles each way.

Researching the then-new 2007 Lexus IS250 I found many complaining about needing new tires and brakes every 10k to 20k. Decided I had no need of super high performance 17" or 18" tires, so bought a not-Lexus. Had Lexus used more modest tires and wheels (and brake pad material) I would probably be driving one today.

I thought of out-of-adjustment brakes as well (as I’m sure did Tom & Ray) but decided that was unlikely, because if I recall correctly, she said it’s happened on different cars she’s owned.

She could be driving too fast, she could be two-footing it (one foot on the gas, one on the brake), or she could be inadvertently braking by resting her left foot near the brake pedal. A better answer for Tom & Ray would have been to ask her if she purposely uses both feet to drive. If yes, that’s part of the problem. If no, have somebody follow her around driving for a while, and the observer will probably figure it out. Either Tom & Ray were right (and she didn’t argue their point), or the brake light comes on too often suggesting an errantly placed foot.

If Kat is interested in slowing down, I recommend looking at a few websites on hyper-mileing. I adopted a few of these techniques to deal with high gas prices, but it also had the side effect of slowing down my driving and lowering my over all stress. Just coasting into stops and driving the speed limit made a huge difference for me.

Sounds like my sister. She stays on the gas until she absolutely must step in the brakes and it is a near maximum effort stop every time. She has never stopped short of the far side of a crosswalk. She is a type-AAA personallity and does everything to the ultra-max. She wore out her frist set of brakes in her new HHR in 20K miles. She won’t back off until she kills someone. I won’t ride with her any more. I drive or I don’t go. She hates the way I drive using my turn signals, letting off the gas when there’s a red light ahead, and driveing the speed limit. Kewl! Hate away. I get great gas mileage!

I know a few people like this, and they scare me. I try not to ride with them if possible. They’re not getting anywhere any faster by driving this way, they’re just endangering everyone on the road and damaging their car and burning extra gas.

The people that I know who drive like this also are the same people who complain that they spend thousands a year on repairs.

I drive very conservatively, and I have taken every new car I’ve owned to 100,000 miles and beyond with less than $1000 in repairs. I actually have made 100,000 miles on the original brakes with each of my last 3 cars. I change the pads and check the rotors then just so I don’t have to worry about it. As a bonus, by using my brakes conservatively, I haven’t had to even turn my rotors for many years, they stay dead flat or very close to it if not abused and overheated.

I know there are people who drive like the pedals are on/off switches - and they just can not help themselves. That’s just the way they work.

My Father-in-Law was pretty close to that. When he drove a manual, it was like each motion was disconnected from the next: Off the gas, push in clutch, pull handle, let clutch out, push on gas! Every shift was like being on a boat in rough seas.

Most brakes on average last between 40-60,000 Ive seen many times where they hit the 90,000 mark. So either the woman drives her car like a postal worker or they are replacing the brakes with cheapo ones. Get a good set of brakes with a lifetime replacement and keep the reciept and accept that every time your foot comes off the gas it does not necessarily need to be resting on the brake.