Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Jody asks: Thanks very much for the reply and information (see the original question here).
I have been using a mechanic who otherwise seems reliable and fair. He states that rotors are cheaply made, and that even more expensive ones are not reliable, warping and wearing quickly, not justifying the extra cost. He states the calipers often freeze and this further diminishes the life of the brakes and requires a full replacement, pads rotors, calipers, about $600 for 2 wheels. A previous mechanic I had seen also mentioned the stuck caliper, sometimes only on one side but necessitating both sides be done as both calipers should be replaced at the same time. So, about every 10k miles I’ve done either the front or the back, alternating. This equals total brake replacement about every 20k miles. The boat and trailer is definitely under 2000 lbs. even fully loaded. I also take pains to try to wash the wheels and brakes after driving on salted roads. Most of the miles I put on the van are highway miles, although there is some driving on hills and in city traffic. I guess if I got a newer model I will likely have the same problem.
My reply: It is common for the rotors used in modern cars to be thin (to save weight) and this more easily damaged by heat (and air guns). The caliper freezing may have to do with the brine spraying; I wrote about this a few weeks ago. See here. In my opinion, this is causing real damage, including accelerated and more severe corrosion. But hey, it might snow tomorrow.
That said, others seem to be having similar issues (see here) and it is possible that the brakes (rotors and calipers) are undersized for the vehicle and the loads – which is not your fault or the van’s but Dodge’s.
Still, I’d give thought to a set of aftermarket performance rotors and maybe even calipers – which will be much better-made than the factory parts and give you much better braking performance. The cost will also likely be less over time as you won’t be spending $1,200 every 20,000 miles for new brakes!
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