Question about 2003 Honda Accord

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My mechanic tells me I need rear brake pads and rotors as a cost of $ 320.00. I have 60000 miles on the car. I can't believe I need brakes so soon with low mileage.

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The way in which a car has driven has a very direct impact on how long brake pads will last before they have to be replaced. For example, if you spend most of your time driving long distances on the highway, you're using your brakes much less often than in stop and go urban driving. I have seen cars that need brake jobs every 75,000 miles; I've seen similar cars, with different drivers and different driving routines, go 25,000 miles between brake jobs.

I would not be surprised at all if the front brake pads (and possibly rotors) of your Accord needed to be replaced at 60k miles of typical mixed driving. I am, however, somewhat surprised that your rear brakes need service at this point. The front brakes of a car typically provide much more of a car's stopping power than the rear brakes (it's a physics thing), and so they generally wear much more quickly than the rear brakes. All that said, I recently had to replace the rear brake pads and rotors of a 2002 Passat that had only 51,000 miles on the odometer. This car's pads were worn down to the metal, and one of the rotors was badly scored. Upon speaking with the owner of the car, though, things made slightly more sense. First, the car was equipped with a very active ABS braking system, which decreases front wheel braking and increases rear wheel braking depending on road conditions. As a result, the rear brakes of that car were used much more heavily than in the "average" car. Second, and more obviously, the owner admitted to forgetting to release her parking brake several times before driving off, sometimes going several miles before realizing her mistake. The emergency brake system on most cars engages the rear brakes, and driving off with those brakes still on will put a huge amount of wear on those pads in a very short distance.

One final, distant, thought is that it's possible that your rear calipers have gotten "sticky" and are not fully releasing after they have been engaged. Accumulated moisture on the brake pistons and piston channel walls can leave rust spots that hang up piston travel, leading to this condition. At the same time, it would be unusual for both brakes on the same axle to develop this problem at the same time--this typically happens one brake caliper at a time, and you notice the condition when you car begins pulling to one side when you brake or even after you release your brakes.

Posted on May 19, 2011

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