We know how much you all like heading up into the mountains based on how often we perform brake maintenance and change out brake pads at the shop! It’s a simple fact of Colorado life that brakes need more attention because they get a lot more use.
6 Top Brake Issues
Brake warning lights. NEVER ignore a brake warning light, it can signal hydraulic leaks, worn brake pads or drums (depending on the type of brakes your car has,) warped rotors and more.
Worn out brake pads. Brake pads are found on disc brakes which are commonly used for front brakes in most passenger cars (some cars have drum brakes on the rear wheels.) As brake pads run down they wear even faster because of their inability to dissipate heat and they throw off more brake dust. If you notice your wheels are quickly covered in black it can be a sign your brake pads are getting low. Squealing brakes, especially when your foot is off the brake pedal, is another sign of wear. Any noise from your brakes warrants your attention.
Warped rotors. Rotors can warp under stress which inhibits your brake pads from applying even pressure. This drastically increases how long it takes for you to stop your vehicle. If your steering wheel shakes when you press the brake it’s likely you have a warped rotor.
Hydraulic leaks. Leaks of brake fluid can lead to sudden brake failure. If you notice a leak under your car or realize your brake pedal pushes to the floor there’s a good chance it’s a leak in the hydraulic brake system. If you are concerned that you have a hydraulic brake leak, you should stop driving immediately and have it towed in for an inspection.
Emergency brake is on. This is an easy one to fix but it often happens that a driver forgets the emergency brake is on. If you feel your car is dragging check the emergency brake first. Driving with the brake on can quickly damage the emergency brake system.
Smoking brakes. Brakes smoke and/or smell when they are overheated and the main reason they get overheated is by constant application of brakes on descents of mountains and hills. If the brakes get to the smoking point, damage has likely occurred (or something is leaking onto your brakes – also bad as this causes the brake pads to glaze up.)
Common Brake Warning Lights – Don’t Ignore These!
Here are some common brake warning lights:
Brake fluid level warning light. Brake fluid is low.
Anti-lock braking system warning light.
Fault in hydraulic system/brake fluid level dangerously low.
Parking (emergency brake) is on.
Brake Maintenance Tips
- Learn how to brake properly on mountain roads.
- Have brake fluid changed every 2 years (or sooner if the fluid looks brown) in order to protect your car’s critical brake components.
- Get your brake pads checked frequently, especially if you do a lot of mountain driving.
- Don’t ride your brake pedal.
- Avoid sudden braking by giving yourself more room between your car and the one in front of you.
- When your brake pads need replacing buy the highest quality pad you can afford. Be sure the new pads meet or exceed factory specs.
How A Battery Works
That sinking feeling when your car won’t start…most of us have been there at one point or another and it all could have been so easily prevented. Fortunately knowledge is power and understanding how your battery works, what its limitations are, and how to recognize the warning signs will help not get caught in this position again. First, a short lesson on how a car battery works:
How Long Does A Car Battery Last?
The average life of a battery is 3-5 years. At some point all batteries die. The lead chemical coatings on the battery cell plates deteriorate to the point the battery can no longer provide sufficient charge.
Things That Decrease The Life Of A Battery
- Frequent short driving trips. Your car’s alternator takes over once your battery starts your car. It takes the alternator at least 20 minutes of driving to recharge the battery.
- Faulty alternator. If the alternator isn’t working properly it will drain more energy from the battery.
- Corroded battery terminals prevent the battery from fully recharging.
- Leaving lights on after your car is turned off.
- Extreme cold. Cold engine oil is thicker and requires more energy to get it moving. Simultaneously, cold slows down the chemical reactions happening inside the battery.
- Extreme heat. High heat can cause the sulfuric acid bath your battery cells live in to evaporate resulting in internal structural damage. (Extreme heat is much harder on batteries than extreme cold.)
How Do You Know When You Need A New Battery?
The most dramatic way you’ll know you need a new battery is when your car won’t start. Generally, it’s easy to avoiding getting to this point. Part of our regularly scheduled maintenance program here at Pellman’s is to check the health of your battery. Our diagnostic test tells us if your battery is healthy and if not, gives us a general idea of how much life is left.
Other Warning Signs
- An old battery. To determine the age of your battery look for the 4-5 digit code on the battery cover. Look for a letter (A-L.) The letter tells you the month the battery was made (A=January, L=December.) Following the letter is a number which represents the year the battery was made. A number “1” means the battery was made in 2011. (The rest of the numbers in the code designate where the battery was made.)
- Car takes a long time to turn over.
- Low battery fluid level warnings.
- Swollen battery case (usually caused by extreme heat.)
Be Sure To Recycle Your Old Battery
At Pellman’s we recycle batteries. If you are the DIY type, please be sure and recycle your old battery. A typical car battery contains up to 20 pounds of lead and a gallon of sulfuric acid. Don’t throw it in the landfill!
Curious how batteries are recycled? Check it out:
A Pellman’s Automotive Comprehensive Vehicle Inspection is a great way to put your mind at ease when you’re buying a used car or truck, preparing for a road trip, or sending a child off to college. We’ll inspect each component and accurately describe any and all problems or maintenance issues we see, as well as provide a detailed breakdown of what repairs are needed and how much each will cost. We’ll also prioritize these in order of importance, giving you a thorough, accurate snapshot of the vehicles overall condition. Call us for more information! In some situations, we might need to do additional diagnosis to determine the extent of the problem. If this should happen, we’ll advise you in advance of what procedures are involved and what the additional labor cost will be.
Fall and Spring Check-Ups
Service Includes: Oil and filter change (up to 5 quarts oil); Battery service, Radiator drain & fill, and a complete inspection including: Visually inspect air filter, fuel filter, brake & chassis, clutch operation, belts, hoses, lights, wipers, tires, cooling system, exhaust system, shocks & struts, suspension, steering, and alignment. Check all fluid levels, and condition where applicable.
Why: Prepares your car for changing road conditions specific to the upcoming season.
Which tire is best for your vehicle depends on several factors – not only on the type of vehicle you have (whether four wheel or front wheel drive, for example) but also the kind of driving you typically do. Our service advisors are ready to help you find the tire that’s the best fit for your car, lifestyle, and budget. We offer a complete line of quality tires and can order and install most brands on your car within 24 hours.
Electrical Components – Battery, Alternator, Starter.
The starters and alternators we sell are all high quality, and come with a 2-year, 24-month warranty. We offer a complete line of quality batteries as well, each with an 18-month free replacement warranty, pro-rated to the remaining warranty period (usually 5 to 6 years).
If your vehicle’s battery is more than four years old, it’s nearing the end of its life span, and should be tested.