At Wiygul Automotive, we determine the need to perform a brake pad replacement on Reston, VA cars based on three factors: is it a soft or hard pad, usual driving environment, and the driver’s braking habits. We recommend routine brake inspections to determine not just replacement of the pads, but to examine the brake calipers and rotors as well for performance and wear.
Vehicle type and material composition define if a brake pad is soft or hard. Most of the cars on Virginia roads fall into the standard performance category which operates at lower speeds. Examples in this category are sedans, mini-vans, and SUVs. Standard performance vehicles use soft brake pads made from steel or other metal compounds. They have a shorter lifespan than hard brake pads, but they perform well under most road and weather conditions and are less expensive.
Sports cars and other high-performance vehicles require hard brake pads. Constructed from carbon-ceramics and designed for high-speed use, they function best once they heat up. Since this slightly delays peak performance, drivers initially have to be more cautious. The carbon-ceramic material makes hard pads more expensive, but they last much longer than steel pads.
The daily environment can affect the brake pad lifespan significantly. Urban or city environments require frequent braking due to stop-and-go traffic caused by road congestion. Drivers must take the same actions when traveling on steep elevations in places like the Apple Orchard or the Rocky Mountains. Extended and frequent braking is required to control the descent speed on steep, downhill runs. Conversely, drivers brake far less in flat, rural areas near Reston, VA, so brake pad replacement is a rare requirement.
Regardless of where they operate the vehicle, driver braking habits most often determine how quickly their brake pads need replacing. Drivers that keep a foot on the brake or ‘ride’ it, wear down material rapidly. The same is true for drivers who stop suddenly with a sharp, heavy step on the brakes. If the car uses soft pads, the build-up of heat from either poor habit can melt tiny amounts of metal off the pads which drip onto the rotors, compromising them as well. Drivers that brake early and gently coast to a stop with a soft touch on the brakes can significantly extend their brake pad’s lifespan.
Most brake pads need replacement at around 50,000 miles of use. That can be cut in half to 25,000 miles when the driver uses improper braking habits. Proper braking can add as much as 20,000 miles to the life of the brake pads, saving hundreds of dollars. To extend the brake’s lifespan and push back the cost of brake pad replacement for your Reston, VA auto, we recommend a complete examination with each oil change.
Wiygul Automotive Clinics provide free, annual brake inspection to each of our customers. It is simply a part of our 60-year family tradition of customer service started by James ‘Grandpa’ Wiygul. If you need new pads or other brake components, call 866-702-8050 to schedule an appointment or drop in at one of our clinics near you.