Brake Life

98monte_ls98monte_ls Member Posts: 117
edited April 2014 in Chevrolet
My family and I have driven GM front wheel drive cars for a long time. Our experience has been that the front disc brake pads (semi-metallic)last anywhere from 20,000 to 28,000 miles and then start squealing loudly when the wear indicators make contact.

Well, I have a 98 chevy Monte Carlo and I have now 36,200 miles and I have the original brakes!!!
There is a slight pulsating feeling at times as I would expect the rotors to need resurfacing, and sometimes and I stress SOMETIMES I hear a little squeal not when the brake is applied. It is not constant like I have known the sound to be on other cars. I had the brakes inspected at 30,000 mi and they said I have plenty of pad!!!!!!!

Is this normal? Is this possible? Is GM using a longer-life pad today?

I had a little accident damage at 10,000 mi where they had to replace some suspension parts but I am wondering if they cheated and swapped out my brakes instead!! To my knowledge I have never had any work done on the brakes except having the rear drums cleaned/adjusted twice.


  • dudleyrdudleyr Member Posts: 3,469
    I can't believe that brakes could need to be replaced that often - my 1990 Integra still has the original front pads 130,000 miles.

    My Scirocco pads lasted 140,000 - would have been longer but the master cylinder went and that put a huge stress on the one front brake that still worked and wore in down by the time I could get a new M cyl. The other side still had about a third of its life left.

    I have no problem believing a car can go 30,000 miles on a set of pads.
  • 98monte_ls98monte_ls Member Posts: 117
    130,000 mi on one set???!!!!!! Well, all I can see is that you're talking about foreign cars with better designed brake systems. Acura's are pretty good cars.

    No GM car we have ever owned, not even the rear-drive '83 Olds Delta-88, has ever gone more than 30,000. And driven by two different kinds of driver - my mom is a chronically slow driver but I'm fast. doesn't matter.

    I bought a brand new Pontiac Sunbird in '93 with 7 miles on the clock. Just rolled off the truck. When it hit 18,000 and the brakes were squealing loudly and people would turn their heads when I come up, I toook it in to the GM dealer and they say "oh that is quite normal to last 18,000 mi. We even see them last 12,000 mi!"
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Brake wear has a lot to do with driving habits, too, as well as the weight, size and design of the car. Folks who ride their brakes or don't use the transmission for long downgrades will use brakes at 2 & 3 times the rate of "normal".

    And don't forget local geography. To give you an idea, taxi cabs in San Francisco get new brakes every 6 weeks I'm told.
  • 98monte_ls98monte_ls Member Posts: 117
    Maybe you're on to something Mr. Shiftright. The Sunbird, Citation, and Achieva were in Florida where its always hot. The Monte Carlo was on the Gulf coast (Biloxi/Mobile and down to Florida a couple weeks at a time) for only nine months before moving a few hundred miles north - Not to the extreme cold north but cool dry winter weather in the south here. so maybe this weather/location is helping the brakes last longer?

    But like I said - the old rear drive Olds was in Michigan for 5 years and its brakes lasted 30,000 max. So who knows!!!
  • grover90grover90 Member Posts: 4
    Well a new CM owner who's spent all weekend trying to fix the brakes on a '90 metro-
    I could not be more displeased.

    Why have they buoyed the rotor? I feel like I'm trying to get to my axle-not my brakes. For the first time since I worked for a mechanic, I'm looking at a tool that looks like a chicken foot.

    the first AC delco tool was poorly machined and the bolts didn't fit through. Fourth trip to the auto parts store with a borrowed car...

    So now, the tool that has a span of 4" made to fit standard CM cars, is no good I/I the center of the holes are 4" apart.

    any suggestions?

    (sorry if this in the wrong place, I'm still new at this)
  • jvirginiajvirginia Member Posts: 65
    I would think that driving in extremely rural locations, where one can travel literally hundreds of miles without ever finding it necessary to apply the brakes, would allow for driving 130,000 miles on original brake pads. Anyone who lives in an urban location or major city would be foolish to attempt to drive beyond 30,000 miles on a set of brake pads without at least checking the pad wear. My father-in-law recently traded in his '98 GM minivan with 57K miles and the original brake pads still on. He had them checked on 3 occasions and still had over 60% pad remaining when he traded. He lives in a rural area.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Member Posts: 3,469
    It is not only how often you apply the brakes but also how hard you apply the brakes. Anticipate stops and slow down gently. A good driver should never have to brake very hard unless there is an emergency situation. Also having a manual tranny helps especially in traffic. With an automatic people just kind of ride the brake to go slowly. With a 5 speed that is not the case.

    By the way I live in town, and much of my driving is in the city.
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    I think it's really hard to pinpoint why certain cars seem to go through pads quickly while others seem to last the life of the vehicle. I too had a '90 Integra whose front brakes could have lasted more than 100,000 miles while my Dad had a Mercury Grand Marquis that couldn't go 40,000 miles without eating up a set ... especially the rears.

    Some of the variables:

    1) Pad size
    2) rotor size
    3) driver's skill & habits.
    4) vehicle weight
    5) hydraulics (brake bias)
    6) Type of transmissioon
    7) geography
    8) climate
    9) brake lining composition

    --- Bror Jace
  • mdecampsmdecamps Member Posts: 115
    My theory is that a set of brake pads is MUCH cheaper than a clutch job on my 5-speed. I rarely ever downshift. I leave it in gear as long as I can and then pop the clutch and brake to a stop. I know it is unorthodox, but it is at least much cheaper!

  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    mdecamps, that is the correct procedure. leave the car in gear as you slow (don't downshift) and then pop it into neutral before the engine starts to stumble as you come to a complete stop.

    --- Bror Jace
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Bror Jace...

    Out of your list, Number 3 is, by far, the most critical!
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