Too Many Quick Lube Visits Lead to Dangerously Thin Brake Pads

Brian England, Wed, Jan 10, 2018

The other day, one of our auto mechanics, Hernando, was working on a Mercedes SUV. The driver had brought it in for preventive maintenance, and when Hernando checked it out, it turns out the brakes were in terrible condition. The brake material was worn so thin; it was as flat as paper. And then, it just came off!

Hernando discovers super thin brake pads on customer's Mercedes.

The brake pads should have been replaced about 15,000 miles earlier when they were approximately 3/32″ or .094 inches thick!

Do you know how thick paper is? Well, photo paper is about .009 inches thick, so the brakes on that Mercedes were around 10% of the thickness required for safe driving!

Super Thin Brake Pad Close Up

You are probably wondering why a driver of an expensive car like this would let the brakes become so neglected that it became dangerous?

Well, the customer thought they were looking after their car by having “quick lubes.” In fact, the customer took the car in for several “quick lubes” in a row, and it resulted in a dangerous situation because they never checked his brakes.  

Brake pad and disc.jpg

The problem with heavily reliance on quick lubes for maintenance is that they don’t check on the performance of critical safety features of the car. In fact, I just did a quick Google search to see what Valvoline includes in their 10-minute Express Care oil change. It includes oil, a filter, a fluid top off, air filter inspection, cabin filter inspection, tire pressure check, wiper inspection, and all grease fittings.

This totally ignores the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations!

If this were an isolated case then I would understand, but it’s not. So many people think maintenance on a car is just about changing the oil only! Apparently, this extends to owners of expensive cars like Mercedes too.

The widespread nature of this problem became painfully obvious recently when I ran across an article in the Washington Post that talked about how electric cars would result in many auto mechanics losing their jobs. They came to this conclusion based on their premise that electric cars don’t need maintenance, or require very little maintenance. No one they interviewed pointed out that that electric cars still have, steering, suspension, brakes, tires, lights, wipers, fluids, etc. All of these should be inspected at regular intervals.

While driving a car anything can happen, a nail could go into a tire, something could damage the underside, pothole damage….!

Regular inspections can catch problems like this before they become expensive or a safety concern.  Proper auto maintenance involves more than just changing the oil & filter, checking the tire pressure, and topping off fluids.

There may be occasions when you want “just an oil change.” But, if you want to be safe, and you want your car to enjoy a long, problem free life, you’ll need to follow it up with proper maintenance.

You can see what’s included in a typical oil change service on our scheduled maintenance page. For most cars and SUVs, you will want to have a 5K service performed every 6 months or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Happy Motoring, and don’t neglect those brakes. Thin may be in, but not when it comes to brake pads!

 

About Brian England

 

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care) got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in the northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD, and a few years later, started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. A big believer in preventive auto maintenance, Brian's philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of adhering to a regular maintenance plan.