Don’t Go Halfway On Brake Repair

September 9th, 2015
Brake Repair in Montgomery, ALSometimes we get questions about brake repair…we know everyone is trying to save a few bucks on auto repair, but there are things that you just shouldn’t skimp on. One question we sometimes hear is, “can I get by with just replacing one set of brake pads?” The answer to that is yes…and no. 
Simple physics shows that while braking, a vehicle’s weight transfers to the front. That’s why most older vehicles were designed with disc brakes in front and drum brakes in the rear, since disc brakes have more braking power. In fact, the front brakes do 70-75% of the work in stopping a vehicle. Think, for instance, of the way that front brakes on a bicycle respond compared to the rear brakes. Since the front brakes do much more of the real work in braking, they will be the ones to wear out the pads first. It’s not unusual to replace the front brake pads twice before having to replace the rear pads (depending on your driving style and the way the vehicle is used). This equation has changed somewhat over the years, as antilock braking systems and their proportioning valves send more brake pressure to the rear wheels but it’s still the front brakes that do much of the work during normal driving. 
So the answer is yes, you can absolutely get by with replacing the front brake pads as long as the rears still have some good service life left in them. What you should not do, though, is replace the pads on only one side. If it were possible for you to buy only a left shoe instead of a pair of shoes, would you do it? Of course you wouldn’t! 
Replacing pads on one side of the vehicle would mean that braking force would be distributed so unevenly that the car would dive to one side as soon as the brakes are applied, making it downright dangerous to drive. Replacing only one set of pads is not just false economy, it’s unsafe. 
The good news is that if you address brake repair early, you can save yourself some real money. If you let your worn brakes go for too long, they’ll wear right down to the steel backing plate that the pads are mounted on. Eventually, the rivets will be exposed and will dig into the smooth steel surface of the rotors, meaning that they will have to be replaced as well. And of course, brakes that are neglected for that long are a real safety hazard and will set up an awful metal-on-metal grinding noise every time you step on the brake pedal. Hopefully, that grinding noise won’t be followed by a loud crash! 
Regardless of whether you think it’s time for brakes or not, it’s a good idea to have them checked at regular intervals. A yearly inspection is the bare minimum; twice a year is better. Head off your brake problems early by giving us a call at Don Duncan’s All American Auto & Tire, or schedule an appointment at either of our two convenient locations in Montgomery, AL. One of our experienced, qualified auto repair techs will be happy to get a look and let you know what kind of shape your brakes are in…with the same kind of integrity and honesty you’ve come to expect with us. 

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  Posted in: Auto Repair 101