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How long can brakes go?

I have a 2001 Honda Civic with 160,000 miles. I still have the original brakes and shocks/struts as the case maybe. My questions is - how long can modern brakes go before they need to be replaced? I am wondering if I need to proactively replace my brakes and shocks/struts even though I am not have any kinds of problems with them. Also, what is the difference between a shock and a strut? Any informatino/advice will be greaty appreciated.

The longevity of brake pads/shoes is a function of both vehicle design and driver behavior. Even a car with brakes designed for a long life can suffer premature brake wear if the car is driven by someone with bad habits and/or if the car is used in mostly urban driving.

Conversely, even the best driver cannot make his brakes last longer than their design life. Some of the GM compacts of the '80s come to mind here, since they typically needed to have their brakes replaced every 12,000 miles or so.

All of this being said, even though I want to congratulate you on your obviously good driving habits, it would still be a good idea to take your car to the shop in order to have the condition of the pads checked. And, when it is at the shop, have the brake fluid changed!

Because of the hygroscopic nature of brake fluid, it absorbs moisture from the air, and your fluid is likely diluted with water at this point. This will lead to very expensive corrosion in the brake hydraulic system, so it is prudent to have this done now. In fact, if you check your maintenance schedule, I believe that you will find that Honda calls for a brake fluid change every 3 years/36k in order to prevent hydraulic system damage. Additionally, during periods of heavy brake usage–such as driving on a hilly downgrade–the water in the brake fluid will actually BOIL, and will lead to temporary brake fade (inability to stop the car).

As to the struts, they are getting a bit long in the tooth, but they may still be good. I can tell you that my '97 Outback, with about 160k on the odometer, still has the original struts and they are still in good condition. However, you should have the struts checked when the car is in the shop for its brake service.

Hello, Merry Christmas. Depending in your driving habits and quality of parts you will have brakes for a long time. 160k is a good record, but I have to point out somethings that you may know by now: although the advance in brake fluid technology it is still a hydraulic fluid that will absorb water (if your car uses DOT 5 will not - it forms water pockets- Dot 3 and 4 will), resist corrosion and overheat; the pads will rust and the caliper guides will need lubrication or mar seize. There is a reason why you should service your brakes at regular miles, so even if you do not replace the pads or give a pass on the rotor you will keep parts lubricated and inspected. Look for reports of trouble spots on the net, specially with brake lines, some cars and trucks tend to rust. I have a 2000 Dodge Ram 2500 that the brake line goes to a spot above the fuel tank, it rusted and broke in a spot that you will have difficult to see it and the replacement was painful, drop the tank and so on. I was parked, starting to go in reverse when the pedal went to the floor. So, they may last a long time but please do not let it go neglected.

All good advice. Brakes are easy to check, thin = replace. Shocks and struts, not so easy, they wear out gradually, you may not notice. 160k is generally enough miles to wear them out. The $$ for shocks/struts are worth it if you plan to keep the car for a while. As for strut vs. shock, the strut is load-bearing part of the suspension, while a shock’s only job is to dampen the movement of the suspension.