Is it time to change my brakes?

Brakes perform a vital function for the driver and need to be well maintained to work at their best. The brake caliper, brake pads, and brake rotor are the primary components of car disc brake systems. The brake pads and rotors on all cars wear out, but brake wear down is affected by several factors.Driving habits: How hard a driver pushes their brakes greatly affects how long the brake pads last. Some drivers ride the brakes and stop abruptly, while others gently coast to a stop. Smooth, gradual braking increases pad lifespan, but of course it’s important to brake abruptly when safety calls for it.

Environment:

Due to stop-and-go traffic and traffic lights, driving in the city is harder on brakes than driving out in the country or on long straight roads because braking is required less frequently. Driving in mountainous areas with steep elevation changes can wear brakes out quickly as well, because it’s often necessary to ride the brakes to control downhill speed.

Brake pad hardness:

Brake pads are available in different compounds to suit different driving needs. Hard compound brake pads last longer but usually need to be warm before they perform well, and are more common on performance cars. Soft compound brake pads perform better at low speeds, like in urban areas. Too much heat can melt pad compound onto the brake rotor and reduce brake performance if the driving gets too extreme.

Materials:

The materials that make up the brake rotor and brake pad also factor into the brakes’ durability. Carbon-ceramic brakes last longer than standard metal brakes, for instance, but they need to be warmer than the alternative to be effective. However, carbon-ceramic brakes are extremely expensive and found almost exclusively on high-performance sports cars. Steel or other metal brakes are much more common and still more than adequate to suit a variety of driving conditions.

How to tell if your brakes need replacing

  • Generally, brake pads need to be replaced after about 50,000 miles. Some need to be replaced after 25,000, while others can last for 70,000 miles – it all depends on the factors listed above. To get a more accurate number for your car’s specific needs, consult the owner’s manual. There are other indicators that can communicate that the brake pads are wearing out. These include:
  • Whenever the tires are rotated or the oil is changed, have the mechanic take a look at the brake pads to check the thickness. Inspect regularly.
  • Brake pads have small metal hairs at the very bottom to let the driver know when they are about to run out of grippy material. Immediately replace any brake pad making a squealing or scraping noise.
  • If braking becomes jittery then the rotors may be warped. Some treatments can either clean or grind down the surface of the rotor in order to make it flat again.

Generally, if the brakes look worn out or lose performance, they should be replaced. If there are any unusual noises or sparks coming from the brakes, have them inspected by your Local AMMCO Minnesota Technicians.

Come to AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Repairs & Maintenance

You need an experienced automotive technician who can diagnose the problem and honestly tell you what needs to be done when something is wrong with your car.

If you have questions about your car’s exhaust, engine, transmission, repair or maintenance needs, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Stop by or call a local AAMCO Minnesota repair shop for a Multi Point Vehicle Inspection of your transmission and related systems. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from brakes and oil changes to factory recommended maintenance and full transmission replacements.

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Find a Location Near You

AAMCO Minnesota Transmission shops are locally owned and operated.

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

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AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

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AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

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Winter Road Trip Tips

Winter Driving Preparedness Tips

Here at AAMCO Minnesota we understand the importance for winter safety and readiness. That’s why we offer and remind you of so much information on it. We also offer great winter car care specials – just print and bring to your local AAMCO Minnesota transmission and auto repair shop.image - coupon for free winter safety check at AAMCO Minnesota participating locations

Winter is a rough time for driving. Snowstorms, ice, and overall bad weather conditions make an already challenging job even more so – but it doesn’t have to be your worst nightmare. There are many ways to ensure your safety and the safety of others by practicing safe driving habits and staying on top of your car maintenance. Here are some tips to help you smarten up for driving and keeping your car up to spec this winter.

Look Up

Pay attention to the weather before and during your trip, especially if you’re going on a longer trip. If you’re planning on a long drive, let other people know where you’re going and the estimated time of arrival in case anything happens. Conditions can change quickly. Are you driving into the worst blizzard in years? Are you a snow chaser and just have to get out there? Be aware and prepare. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got a smartphone. Use a weather app to keep track of the weather in your area and your destination. Up-to-the-minute updates will help you prepare properly for your journey into the great white north, or whatever direction you choose.

Power Up

Speaking of that smartphone, make sure it’s charged and take the car charger with you. Don’t have a car charger? Get one. Another handy gadget to have is a battery pack or mobile power station that can charge your phone in minutes and holds enough power to charge it several times over, or power several devices.

Speaking of batteries, give some thought to the big one – the battery in your car. Here’s an article on winter battery tips – what kills it, what keeps it (and your car) going. There are three primary factors that contribute to the formula for a dead car battery in the wintertime – age, cold, and load. Obviously, if the battery is five or more years old, it’s going to have a harder time putting out power and its ability to accept a charge is going to decrease. Combine that with the heavy cold of Minnesota winters, your car battery deserves some attention before you hit the frozen road. Pack some jumper cables if you don’t replace the battery.

Gear Up

Have proper clothing with you for whatever winter weather might bring. Sweaters and fleece jackets are great, but when temperatures drop below freezing, suddenly the coziest sweater from your grandmother is tissue paper. You’ll wish you had an arctic explorer’s parka. Always keep gloves or mittens (mittens keep your hands warmer) in your car (not your trunk), an extra coat, a thick knit hat, blankets, and even a scarf (scarves are warm and amazingly versatile). If you’re not already wearing them, a pair of boots might come in handy.

If you usually keep this stuff in your trunk, it’s a good idea to move it into your car if you’re venturing out into more-treacherous-than-usual conditions. The last thing you want to do, or the first thing you can’t do because you’re trapped or hurt, is get out and go digging around in your trunk as the snow and ice pile up around you and the wind takes your breath away.

Other Gear

Tire chains are optional, but can really be your best friend when driving on slick, snow-packed roads. A bag of kitty litter can help your car gain traction if you are stuck in a really icy or slick spot. Keep a pointed garden or flat edge coal shovel in your trunk – it’s good for digging in, around, and even under your car if you’re stuck. Flares are good day or night, as they call attention to your position and situation, particularly in bad weather.

Let’s just cut to the chase. That emergency kit you’ve been meaning to put together should include:

  • Ice Scraper
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blanketimage - warning sign on slick snow-packed country road in cold winter weather
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Jacket
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Jumper Cables/Portable Car Charger
  • Flares
  • Medication
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Phone Charger

Gas Up

Keep your gas tank full if you can. Don’t let it go below a quarter tank. If you get stuck in traffic, or become stranded, more fuel means more idling & heater time. You’ll be glad you had that extra bit of fuel to get you through the rough times and safely home.

Wake Up

Sleepy? Tired? If all you’d like to do is sleep, try to avoid driving at all when it’s snowy and icy outside. This is just a dangerous combination that could lead to an accident – or worse, you taking the proverbial dirt nap. No amount of coffee and sugar is going to make up for the lack of mental clarity and reaction speed that is needed to effectively drive in adverse weather. Add to that the darkness of night and you’re phenomenally closer to ending up somewhere other than your destination.

image - traffic in winter - slippery, snow-packed road, cars moving slowly

Buckle Up

Do we really have to mention it? Buckle your seat belt. It’s the law. And keep an 8-10 second distance from the vehicle in front of you. You’ll be thankful for that extra space as you slide uncontrollably toward their rear bumper on that patch of ice you ignored. Accelerate and brake slowly. Spinning your wheels and skidding all over the road works your transmission harder than usual and can cause an accident.

Ease Up

If you end up skidding on ice or snow, ease your foot off the gas and carefully turn into the skid until you regain control – point the car in the direction you want to go. If you can’t get up a hill, put on those chains we mentioned earlier. They don’t seem so optional, anymore, do they? It beats taking a running start and using inertia to get you up the hill – potentially messy and dangerous. Just put your car in second gear for more traction while going slower. Put it in low and take it slow around corners, too.

Clean Up

Invest in a good ice scraper and heavy duty snow brush and clean off your car thoroughly. In some states, it’s illegal to drive without having all your windows cleared – scraped, swept, and defogged.

Warm Up

In most newer cars, it’s not necessary to idle to warm up the engine; in fact, it’s more efficient to warm up your car just by driving. This gets your car’s engine and systems up to running temperature faster than sitting in the cold, and helps reduce unnecessary emissions. Plus, if you like to start your car and go back inside while it idles and warms up, you might go back out to find that someone decided to warm it up the right way – and drove off with it. Related: “Warming up your car before driving is a leftover practice from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads.

If you are experiencing any problems, bring your car to your local AAMCO Minnesota Transmission and Total Car Care center. We’ll help you keep your car running reliably so you won’t have to worry about whether your car will start in the next cold snap, or if you’ll weather the next blizzard.

AAMCO Minnesota for Winter Car Maintenance and Repairs

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Come to AAMCO Minnesota for a Transmission Multi-Point Vehicle Courtesy Check for your transmission and related systems. We’ll winterize your car and get you ready for the cold, snowy winter driving months ahead. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from oil changes to factory recommended maintenance.

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Checklist for Preparing Your Car for Winter

Take the Fear Out of Transmission Repair

Watch this video and learn why there is only one place to go – AAMCO. We’re the transmission experts with over 50 years of experience rebuilding and replacing transmissions, and all their 800 pieces. We’ve fixed over 40 million transmissions – way more than our competitors. And we offer a lifetime warranty. Because we have the skill to fix an 800-piece transmission, we can easily fix the rest of your car – brakes, shocks, mufflers, even your engine. Lots of things can make your engine light come on. Today it can be hard to tell what’s wrong with your car, especially if it’s your transmission. Our technicians are trained to keep up with the complex engineering of today’s cars. So, next time something goes wrong with your transmission or any other part of your car, bring it to your local AAMCO.

Daydreaming on Your Cell Phone While Rubbernecking

Driving and Surviving Minnesota Winters

Tips for Driving and Surviving Minnesota Winters

Minnesota winters can be rough. They are not for the faint of heart, and if you have to drive in them you better be prepared. Here at AAMCO Minnesota we care about your car’s reliability because we care about you. We know what it takes to get through winter in Minnesota. It can be challenging for anyone, whether you’ve lived here for years or just weeks. Here are some valuable tips and insights to help beginners – which might also be valuable reminders for seasoned veterans.

Always Be Prepared

Put simply, Minnesota winters are cold and severe, and it snows a lot. If you can’t park your car in a garage, you will do a lot of scraping and digging. Get yourself a good ice scraper and brush combination. Maybe get two so you have backup in case one breaks. Ice melt windshield washer fluid or spray-on ice melt can come in handy if you find yourself without a scraper, or if the ice is just too thick to scrape. There are some home remedies for ice prevention or removal. One solution to remove ice is to mix water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and apply liberally to the windows. Spraying your windows with a solution of water and white vinegar the night before a snowfall can help prevent ice buildup. If you really don’t like to scrape ice and brush snow off your car, you can invest in a car cover, or at least a windshield cover.

Get a metal car shovel. Whether you’re digging out of snow in a parking lot or if you’re stuck in a snowdrift, you’ll be happy to have more than your hands. Keep a bag of ice melt and/or sand in your trunk – it can help get you out of slick spots when your tires just can’t do it alone.Image - car covered in snow and ice.

Some other items you should seriously consider having in your car for winter emergencies include boots and an extra coat, as well as a hat, gloves, and blanket. A bag of kitty litter can help your car gain traction if you are stuck in a particularly icy or slick spot. Flares are good day or night, as they call attention to your position and situation. Keep a phone charger in the glove box. Protein bars, trail mix, or some other filling, high energy snack is a good thing to have just in case you become stranded. Tire chains are optional, but can really be your best friend when driving on slick, snow packed roads. Jumper cables are a great idea, too. If your car won’t start, and someone is willing to help, it pays to have the right equipment – and you can always help someone else in need.

Here are some other useful tips on what you can do to prepare for and survive Minnesota winters.

Prepare Your Car for Minnesota Winters

Car Safety and Blizzard Preparation

Learn to Drive in Snow and Ice

If you can, get snow tires for your car. Though nothing really helps on ice, snow tires do maintain better traction in snowy, slippery conditions, which helps you keep better control of your car. In addition, front wheel drive or all-wheel drive provides added safety and stability in winter conditions.

Slow down! None of the other winter driving safety tips will help if you’re driving too fast for the winter weather conditions. Driving too fast on snowy or icy roads is the main cause of winter car accidents in Minnesota. Stay at least five seconds behind the car in front of you. If you start to lose control of the car, let off the gas and calmly turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. Don’t slam on the brakes or jerk the steering wheel. Sudden shifts in momentum and direction can send your car out of control on slick roads. imge - icy, slick, snow-packed country road with icy road warning sign

Stay Informed, Be Alert

You should make a point of being aware of the local winter forecast. Forecasts might not always be totally accurate, but staying informed will help you plan accordingly. If you live in Minneapolis and surrounding area, it helps to sign up for automated winter weather alerts. If you are in St. Paul, check out their winter weather advisory information and sign up for alerts.

Driving and surviving in Minnesota winters can be easy if you:

  • Are prepared
  • Stay informed
  • Learn how to drive and be safe in winter weather
  • Help others, and
  • Make your goal not just survival, but arrival.

AAMCO Minnesota for Winter Car Maintenance and Repairs

Come to AAMCO Minnesota for a Transmission Multi Point Vehicle Courtesy Check for your transmission and related systems. We’ll winterize your car and get you ready for the cold, snowy winter driving months ahead. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from oil changes to factory recommended maintenance.

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Checklist for Preparing Your Car for Winter

Take the Fear Out of Transmission Repair

Watch this video and learn why there is only one place to go – AAMCO. We’re the transmission experts with over 50 years of experience rebuilding and replacing transmissions, and all their 800 pieces. We’ve fixed over 40 million transmissions – way more than our competitors. And we offer a lifetime warranty. Because we have the skill to fix an 800-piece transmission, we can easily fix the rest of your car – brakes, shocks, mufflers, even your engine. Lots of things can make your engine light come on. Today it can be hard to tell what’s wrong with your car, especially if it’s your transmission. Our technicians are trained to keep up with the complex engineering of today’s cars. So, next time something goes wrong with your transmission or any other part of your car, bring it to your local AAMCO.

Dangerous Holidays for Driving

Holiday Driving – Be Safe, Be Aware

At AAMCO Minnesota we believe in safety – safe cars and good drivers make for safer roads for all of us. We take great care to keep you informed about your car and all its systems, as well as keep your car on the road with scheduled maintenance services and repairs, including full transmission repairs and rebuilds.

Holidays are full of fun and good times with family and friends, but they also come with added dangers. Every year the number of drivers on American roads increases – and that number peaks during the holiday season. Many people hit the roads to visit loved ones, go shopping, head out for parties and festivities. It’s the busiest time of year for travel, and can be fraught with danger if you don’t take extra care.Image - Smiling girl in car leaning out driver side window, winter time.

Dangerous Holidays

Black Friday

There are about 70 million shoppers out and about on Black Friday, looking for bargains, speeding from store to store, sale to sale, all looking to beat each other to the next best deal. All of those cars on the roads, combined with aggressive and/or distracted driving, lead to a rise in accidents. Along with the crowds on the roads, there are often too few parking spaces at the malls and stores, which leads to a record number of parking lot accidents and other incidents. Use caution, be courteous and patient. You will be happier for it as you arrive home at the end of the day with those great bargains you got, accident-free.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving ranks as one of the busiest travel times of the year. As Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, most travelers head out on Wednesday, which makes it the busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving holiday, if not the year.

Thanksgiving is also a driving holiday, which makes it extra dangerous. Some drivers are distracted. Some are drunk, drowsy, or both. This all leads to more accidents. You can keep yourself and loved ones safe by not engaging in dangerous behavior yourself and exercising extra caution everywhere you go. Put away the cell phone while you’re driving, pay attention to the road and conditions around you, and do not drink and drive. Arrive alive and be thankful.

Christmas

Christmas tends to be stressful in many ways, and that leads to accidents. Collision claims increase by about 20 percent in December. Holiday stress combined with busy roads can lead to more aggressive driving. Drivers are more likely to show signs of aggression or road rage during the holidays. Despite the fact that the holidays are supposed to be times of cheer and good will, many people are stressed and easily forget what it’s all about. You can help yourself and others by simply being kind and slowing down.Image - Family having fun in the snow, posing with snowman.

Slow Down

Along with the good times come deadlines, stress, and the need to be places. People have to go shopping for everything from gifts and groceries, to clothes and outfits for holiday parties and get togethers. In today’s world of always on and go-go-go, we are pressed for time.

The holidays can add an extra level of stress. It’s easy feel like we’re running behind or are late for everything, which increases the feeling that we need to rush everywhere – and this mindset translates to our driving. Many drivers already tend to speed, which is dangerous. Add to that people’s level of distraction – talking, texting, and generally not paying attention to the most important task at hand – driving. As you speed down the highway or even just through a parking lot, you need to realize how much danger you are creating for yourself and others. Pay attention. Slow down.

Think about the good people and things in life. Take the opportunity as you sit stuck in traffic to think about the real reasons you do what you do during the holidays – and even every day. Rushing in a rage doesn’t help anyone and won’t get you anywhere any faster. It might even end in you not getting anywhere at all. It’s important to remember what the holidays truly mean, and be thankful that we have these opportunities to celebrate these special times.

AAMCO Minnesota wishes you safe and happy holiday travels. Call or schedule an appointment online for your transmission repair and total car care needs.

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