Whoa Nelly!

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Here's a handy car care tip from your friend Steve...

Amy drives a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe and has driven it nearly every single day since we bought it in November of 2001. The Tahoe's primary job is to shuttle Amy from the house to the animal shelter, which is just about 3.0 miles each way.

Along that way, she has to navigate a large hill, which offers more than 500-feet of elevation change. Then, she has to deal with merging onto the interstate, driving about 2.25 miles, and then slowing from 60-mph to 0 so that she can make a cross-traffic turn into the Shelter.

Needless to say, the Tahoe does not have an easy life. It gets to look forward to a short drive, complete with large hills, rapid acceleration, sudden deceleration, and then it gets to do it all over again at the end of the day.

Trips like this are hell on a vehicle. It's hard on the engine. It's hard on the transmission. It's hard on the exhaust system. And it's especially hard on the brakes.

We've done a great job of taking care of general maintenance - the Tahoe receives an oil change every 4-5 months, complete with Pennzoil Platinum 5w30 and a Wix filter. Every year, the tires are rotated and the fuel filter is replaced. Every two years, the Tahoe gets a transmission fluid flush, a complete tune-up, new air filter, and a coolant flush.

And just last week, we replaced the brakes. The Tahoe received a new set of cryogenically-treated Centric rotors (front and rear), Hawk HPS pads (front and rear), and 40-ounces of fresh brake fluid.

Now, that may not seem too exciting, but when you consider the Tahoe got more than 100,000 miles out of its existing set of brakes, that's a major feat, especially given the terrain in which it operates.

You see, back in November of 2003, at around 30,000 miles, I installed a set of cryogenically-treated rotors (front and rear) and a set of Hawk HPS brake pads (front and rear). I also flushed the brake fluid with Wilwood DOT 4 fluid. It cost about $600 to do the full work-up, but I felt it was worth the cost.

And after 100,000 hellish miles, I can confirm it was money well-spent. When I took off the existing pads and rotors, the front set was showed less than 25% wear. I could have easily gotten another 100,000 miles from those front rotors and pads. The rear brakes could have gone another 5-10,000 miles before needing replacement. Regardless, it's totally impressive that the Tahoe got that sort of mileage from those parts.

Most brakes will last maybe 50,000-miles. If you're lucky. And if you drive a lightweight vehicle on flat terrain. The Tahoe tips the scales at more than 4,800-pounds (dry) and it spends its life in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. To get 100,000 miles from the rear brakes is amazing. To think that we could have easily gotten 200,000 miles from the fronts is mind-blowing.

So... take it from me... if you're in the market for new brakes for your vehicle, do yourself a favor and invest in cryogenically-treated rotors and some Hawk brake pads. It'll be money well-spent. I'd be surprised if a "normal" vehicle under "normal" driving circumstances wouldn't get 250,000 miles from this set-up...

What is a cryogenically-treated rotor?

It's a brake rotor that is slowly and carefully frozen to more than -300 degrees Fahrenheit. It's then held at that temperature for a number of hours before being slowing and carefully returned to room temperature. The slow freeze and slower-thaw aligns the metal molecules and makes a stronger rotor. The stronger rotor resists heat, wear, and warpage better than a traditional rotor. The cryogenic process adds about $25 to the price of each rotor, but it'll more than 3x-4x the life. Money well spent.

So... when your car or truck needs brakes, swing by the TireRack.com and check out their selection of cryogenically-treated rotors and Hawk brake pads. You'll be glad you did. If the Tahoe can eek-out more than 100k miles from a set of brakes, your car will easily eclipse that figure.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on December 29, 2011 9:45 PM.

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