Sometimes you can’t avoid slamming on the brakes; another vehicle may unexpectedly merge into your lane or an animal might run across the road. For drivers who consistently wait until the very last moment to brake, they may not realize just how much damage they are doing to their vehicle.
Brake pads and rotors — Your brake pads are your first line of defense when stopping your car. They clamp down on your rotors, which are metal discs, to slow the vehicle. Each time you brake, the material gets worn. The more force that needs to be counteracted, the faster they will wear. Excessive friction and heat on your rotors can lead to warping, glazing, and glowing.
Suspension — When you brake suddenly, you apply much more force than usual to your suspension. Shocks and springs compress more than normal, while ball joints and bearings are subjected to additional forces.
Tires — Consistent heavy braking can reduce your tire tread through increased friction, cause unnatural wear patterns, and lead to flat spots. Your alignment can also be impacted, which further accelerates any issues.
Drive axles / engine mounts — The drive axles transfer power to your wheels and engine mounts and also hold the engine in place. They are put under significant stress during hard braking. Although they are designed to be incredibly durable, a minor issue with either part can lead to very expensive repair bills.
Braking in general generates significant force and energy that your whole vehicle must counteract to come to a stop.
Putting less stress on your vehicle during every day driving can keep your car on the road longer. Bouncie attempts to improve your braking habits by sending notifications when your accelerometer detects a hard-braking event.
Keep in mind not all hard braking events are the result of poor driving, but a consistent volume of alerts should warrant a constructive conversation on better driving habits.
Tips to Avoid Hard Braking
Safe following distance — Staying too close to vehicles in your lane will force you to consistently brake hard. You aren’t allowing yourself enough reaction time to correct for traffic behavior in front of you. Adding more of a gap between your vehicle and the one in front of you will give you more time to react and reduce the wear and tear on your brakes.
Long green lights — One of the harder things to get used to as a new driver is sensing when lights are about to change. Over time, an experienced driver will have a better sense of when a light is about to change, so eventually they are able to subconsciously brake better. Until this skill is learned, you may find yourself braking hard in order to stop if the light turns red. To avoid this, when you approach a long green light, be ready to slow down should the light suddenly change.
Brake lightly then firmly — The idea that braking lightly then firmly “rides” your brakes and leads to faster wear is false. Soft to firm is the best option for slowing your vehicle and reduces stress on the vehicle as a whole.
Be aware of your surroundings — Keep a close eye on the road ahead and be mindful of other drivers around you. At 60 miles per hour, your vehicle is traveling at 88 feet per second. Even a tenth of a second can be the difference between a close call and a collision.