— Trying to put a time or mileage limit on how long brake pads and rotors should last is harder than trying to predict what kind of gas mileage you should expect. Brake life depends on how much we drive, where we drive (think city versus highway) and how we drive (meaning lead foot versus slow and steady). Brakes pads wear out at different rates depending on these and a number of other factors, so it’s hard to determine when you will need to replace. Let’s take a closer look at how long brake pads last and how to tell when they are due for replacement. We will also discuss rotors and some of the most common signs that rotors are going bad.
How Long Do Brake Pads and Brake Rotors Last?
As a guideline, brakes will wear out much faster if most of your driving is in a major urban area where stop-and-go is the rule, as opposed to those who spend most of the time in their vehicle on the open road, where they might not touch the brake pedal for an hour or more. This applies to both brake pads and brake rotors.
If you drive in Boston, New York City or Chicago and spend more time stopping than going, you could need new brake pads every 15,000 miles. If you live in western Iowa and commute from Moville to Holstein, your pads could last three or four times that. Rotors typically last significantly longer than pads, and it is often possible to have them resurfaced rather than replacing them.
But if you’re a driver who frequently applies the brakes when it isn’t necessary — or even drives with one foot on the gas pedal and the other on the brake — it might not matter where you live. Your brake pads and brake rotors are going to wear out sooner than later.
If you own a hybrid or electric vehicle, your brakes should last longer because the regenerative brake systems they use provide much of the stopping power, reducing wear on the pads and rotors. In addition, applying the brakes early for a slow, gradual stop doesn’t increase brake wear, and it helps recharge the batteries for powering the electric motor. Some hybrid owners say their pads and rotors have lasted more than 80,000 miles.
Most of us know very little about tires – and a lot of what we think we know is flat wrong. Here are five commonly held myths about tires.
1. All-season tires have better wet-road grip than summer tires.
Here’s the truth: An all-season tire trades wet-road traction (among other things) for enhanced mobility in snow and in subfreezing temperatures. Designing a tire is an exercise in compromises: Improving a certain performance factor almost always means diminishing one or more other performance factors. (Some more accurately use the term “three-season” when referring to summer tires.)
To make things even more complex, when you switch categories (or even brands), the results may change. An ultra-high-performance all-season tire may offer better wet-grip than a high-performance summer tire or a grand-touring summer tire.
2. Plenty of tread means plenty of remaining tire life.
Here’s the truth: Many are surprised that tires can reach the end of their lives without having gone far or done much work.
Some auto manufacturers recommend replacing tires every five or six years, regardless of tread depth. A tire that’s been on a car seven or eight years is much like a 65-year-old human: No matter how fit and healthy he looks, he shouldn’t play football against 19-year-olds. If it’s 105 degrees outside, a simple stroll can be deadly to both out-of-shape older people and poorly maintained old tires.
Here’s how you can tell how old your tire is:
- Look on the sidewall to find the letters “DOT.” Following that will be a sequence of numbers, which may be in three or four separate windows. The last four numbers tell when the tire was made: “3112” means the tire was built during the 31st week of 2012.
- Check for hairline cracks in the sidewall. Cracks are a strong indication the tire needs to be replaced.
- Inspect for deteriorating rubber, which can be a big problem for rarely driven vehicles, such as motor homes, collector cars, exotic cars, vehicles owned by senior citizens and vans operated by charitable organizations.
It’s happened to us all: the painful sound of something solid – a rock or bits of debris – whacking your windshield. If you’ve had your car for a while and your windshield is immaculate, consider yourself lucky.
The windshield of your car ensures your safety while driving, but it is also prone to chips and cracks. So what should you do when it’s on the receiving end of a rock?
Repairing a small windshield chip
Repairing windshield chips can stop cracks from spreading and avoid the high cost of replacing the windshield.
Also, repairing your windshield allows you to keep the original quality glass and original factory seal and is a fraction of the replacement cost. Prices vary from shop to shop, but a chip repair costs around $50 on average.
There’s no need for immediate worry if the chip is small; it’s probably repairable without replacing the entire windshield. Generally speaking, if you can cover the entire chip with a quarter, you won’t need to replace your windshield.
If the chip can be repaired, it’s best to do the repair as soon as possible.
Your first step is to get an estimate from a glass repair shop. Next, call your insurance company to see if the repair is covered under your insurance policy. Typically, if you have full comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, the repair will be covered. However, each company has its own policy, so it’s worth the call to find out.
When you take your vehicle to a glass repair shop – or, in many cases, the auto glass company will come to your home or office – the repair worker will “fill” most of the chip. This process is relatively simple, and most chips can be repaired in half an hour or less. It may still leave a visible flaw, but it will be much less noticeable. Moreover, the repair provides a strong bond that prevents further cracks
Car air conditioning basics and how-to tips
In the summer months, the process that cools and removes humidity from the air in a car is often used to its capacity. To run efficiently, it’s imperative that a car air conditioner has the proper level of refrigerant, its cooling agent. But if the car air conditioning isn’t working (if it’s not blowing cold air or there’s a clicking noise coming from the engine), then it’s likely that the unit needs to be recharged.
The great news is that you can recharge a car air conditioner by yourself. First, you’ll need safety goggles, gloves, charging hose assembly, A/C pressure gauge and R-134a refrigerant. To simplify things, you can now purchase recharge kits that include every component except for the goggles and gloves.
Here are the basics involved with getting the job done:
- Find the low-pressure service port under the hood. An “L” will likely mark a small plastic cap. Remove this cap.
- Start your car and put the A/C on its coldest setting.
- Attach the charging hose to the low-pressure port.
- Check the pressure gauge.
- Begin recharging the system with the refrigerant. You should periodically stop recharging to check the pressure gauge, which will help prevent overcharging the system.
- After recharging, you can replace the low-pressure cap. Note: Wear your goggles and gloves throughout this task, and carefully follow the instructions on your kit. Depending on the brand, there may be varying instructions.
If polishing and waxing isn’t producing the smooth finish you’d like to see on your vehicle, but you can’t feel the scratches with your fingernail, then a simple liquid scratch remover might do the trick. Note, however, that not all car scratches are the same. Some marks may be due to rubbing against a bumper from a car or shopping cart. The material coming into contact with your finish might be softer, and simply leaving behind a bit of material on top of the paint.
If that’s the case, it may come off easily with a spray for removing tar, bugs and adhesives. Be sure to use a product specifically designed for marks on paint, as acetone or types of solvents might damage the paint. If the mark is still there after using the spray cleaner, try using a soft-grade rubbing compound (it’s easy to penetrate the clear coat, so don’t overdo it). You’ll need to use a polishing compound to remove any fine scratches left by the rubbing compound, and then finish the job by sealing the surface with a good car wax.
Medium-depth scratches that you can feel with your fingernail require a more aggressive method of repair than simply using rubbing and polishing compounds. Bad scratches that penetrate to the color coat can require touch-up paint and possibly professional care.
From an expert: Why you should clean your car wheels
Corrosive brake dust builds up on the wheels, starts to etch into the finish and causes staining, peeling and discoloration, said Todd Cooperider, President, Esoteric – Fine Auto Finishing. Even if you don’t need to replace the wheels, discolored wheels and pitting will surely lower any trade-in value. Cooperider noted that professional detailers – not local car washes – know the best cleaners to use on individual wheel types and finishes.
Detailing costs more than DIY cleaning, of course, but remember that replacing a wheel that was pitted or damaged by improper cleaning can cost about $150 per wheel. If the wrong cleaner is used, it can also be “catastrophic and expensive” to the brakes, said Cooperider. Owners of high-end cars may opt for professional detailers to coat their wheels with the latest quartz/ceramic wheel coating technologies, making cleaning much easier. Those coatings, which can cost between $300 and $600, are generally used on high-end cars with wheels that cost thousands, but that treatment is available for all wheels.
The good news is that most drivers can safely clean their wheels and rims at home as long as they use care and the correct products. That will certainly cost less than detailing, but Cooperider cautioned not to buy the cheapest cleaners. He recommended a relatively new segment of wheel cleaners that are pH neutral and neutralize the iron deposits from brake dust that attach to the rims. These wheel cleaners are far more effective than what is typically available at your local auto parts store, and they are much safer as well.
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Child safety seats greatly reduce the risks of fatal injury in infants and toddlers riding in motor vehicles, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Just as you would click your own seatbelt to keep yourself safe, you should always buckle your child into the right car seat for their age and size. Below we’ll help you find the right seat and install it safely.
For detailed state-specific information and guidelines for your child’s safety seat, you can also jump over to our Safety Laws section.
Choosing the Right Child Safety Seat
Choosing the safest seat for your child can be confusing . The NHTSA has set some guidelines to help you understand the best way to keep your child safe, and also provides an interactive tool to help you choose the best car seat for your child’s age, weight, and height.
General guidelines are as follows:
- Infant rear-facing:
= Children under 1 year old.
– Features a harness strap system and a cradle design to protect a child’s neck and spine in a crash.
- Child rear-facing:
– Children 1 to 3 years old.
– Keep seat in a rear-facing position until child has reached height or weight maximum recommended by seat manufacturer.
– Children 4 to 7 years old, OR children under 4 years old who have outgrown their seat’s height and weight maximum.
– Feature a tether strap system that is much safer than a standard seatbelt for young children.
- Booster seat:
– Children 8 to 12 years old, OR children under 8 years old who have outgrown their seat’s height and weight maximum.
– Designed to add extra height so the car’s seat belt fits your child properly.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
One good way to measure a vehicle’s longevity is to find out how long the typical owner keeps it. By that metric, there is no more reliable vehicle on the market than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. To top it off, it was the winner of the 2017 U.S. News Best Hybrid SUV for Families award.
Nearly a third (32.1 percent) of original Highlander Hybrid owners kept their vehicle for at least 10 years, a higher percentage than any other vehicle. That figure dropped only slightly (29 percent) for owners of the non-hybrid Highlander.
The Subaru Forester has never had particularly good reliability ratings from J.D. Power and Associates, and yet, 10 years down the line, 24.2 percent of Subaru Forester buyers still have the same Forester. Of the top 10 vehicles on iSeeCars.com’s list, the Forester is the only one that isn’t made by Honda or Toyota. For one reason or another, people tend to drive their Subarus for years and years.
The 2017 Subaru Forester ranks in the top half of our compact SUV category. It has the largest cargo capacity in its class, and test drivers like its roomy back seats, standard all-wheel drive, and safety features.