How to Save Money on Brakes

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It’s no secret your vehicle’s brakes are an essential safety system. With complex hydraulic mechanisms and plenty of parts that need replacing on a regular basis, it’s always tempting to put off your brake service as long as possible to save a few pennies. The truth is, failing to keep up with routine maintenance is a sure-fire way to cause yourself extra headaches in the future. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to reduce the cost of this necessity. Check out DriverSide’s list of great ways to save money on your vehicle’s brakes.
Keep Up With Maintenance
Make sure you do all of your brake maintenance on time. Failing to do so can cause damage to expensive parts, sticking you with a hefty bill. For example, it’s easy to overlook replacing you vehicle’s brake fluid, but if you skip the job for a long time, you could cause damage to your brake lines, calipers and your proportioning valve. Replacing all of those parts could cost well over $1,000, whereas bleeding your brake system shouldn’t cost more than $50.
Use Quality Parts
It may be tempting to go for the cheapest parts possible when picking up new bits for your car, but the truth is lackluster replacement parts fail quicker than their name-brand counterparts. Rotors from Mexico may cost as little as $30, whereas a quality example may be closer to $60, but if you have to replace the $30 rotor three times as often, you’ve lost any money you gained in the first place. Do yourself a favor and pick up OEM or mechanic-recommended equipment.
Change Your Driving Habits
More than anything else you can do, changing how you drive will save you tons on your vehicle’s brake costs. Slowing down earlier, not coming to abrupt stops and not riding the brakes will go a long way toward making your car’s equipment last longer than it otherwise would.
Ask if Your Calipers Can Be Rebuilt
If you haven’t taken the best care of your brake system and your mechanic tells you the vehicle will need a new caliper, ask if it can simply be rebuilt instead. In most cases, rebuild kits cost around $30 and the job doesn’t take very long. Compare that to over $100 for a caliper on most cars, and you can see the savings.
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9 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

Winterizing your vehicle is a wise idea, says the Car Care Council. An investment of an hour or two to have your vehicle checked is all it takes to have peace of mind and help avoid the cost and hassle of a breakdown during severe weather.

“The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A vehicle check before the temperatures drop is a sensible way to avoid the inconvenience of being stranded out in the cold and with the unexpected expense of emergency repairs.”

The Car Care Council recommends the following nine steps for winterizing your vehicle.

  1. Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
  2. Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
  3. Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
  4. Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
  5. Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
  6. If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
  7. Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
  8. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
  9. Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.

Motorists should also keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Drivers should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

The ABCs of Car Care for New Drivers

It’s never too early to learn the ABCs of car care, says the Car Care Council.

A – Always follow a preventative vehicle maintenance plan.

B – Be sure to have your car inspected when you suspect there is a problem.

C – Correct the problem to help avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down away from home.

“Most young people can’t wait to drive, but their car care education should begin well before their parents hand over the keys,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Understanding the basics of car care before taking the wheel will help keep new drivers safer on the road.”

The Car Care Council recommends that new drivers keep a free copy of its popular Car Care Guide in the glove box and learn about 10 car care inspection procedures that are an important part of any preventative vehicle maintenance plan:

  1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  3. Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  4. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
  6. Schedule a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
  7. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
  8. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
  9. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  10. Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.