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Motormouth: Front brakes do most of the work

Bob Weber, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Q: On an AWD vehicle, do front brake pads wear faster than rear brake pads since more weight is carried by the front wheels?

L.K., Park Ridge, Illinois

A: The front brakes on most cars wear faster than the rear brakes. It is not only because there is more weight in the front than in the rear. Roughly 80 percent of the stopping power is supplied by the front brakes. You have probably noticed that the front of the car dives a little under hard braking. At the same time, the rear of the car raises, taking some of the weight off the rear wheels. The front brakes are doing most of the work.

Q: Your answer to the 92-year-old who was told she prematurely needed brakes may not have been correct. When my dad was in his 70s, he was driving with one foot on the brake pedal at all times. I see quite a few drivers with brake lights glowing as they drive 45 on a 60 mph freeway. Perhaps those drivers are late in age. I can only imagine the damage to a brake system if that pedal was being pushed hard enough to engage braking while driving 5,400 miles.

B.F., Minneapolis

A: Resting your foot on the brake pedal not only causes wear and tear on the brakes, but it also causes the engine control management system to drop out of closed loop operation. The computer thinks the car is stopping and the engine power is no longer needed.

Q: This is in regard to your article in the Hartford Courant. A writer questioned whether it was wise to run out the gas of his small tools when they were stored for the winter. You suggested adding Stabil (or its equivalent) to the gas instead. I totally agree! One thing you didn't mention was that some of the carburetors on the small gas engines have gaskets or diaphragms that go bad if they are exposed to air for any length of time. P.S. To be honest, I no longer use most of my old small gas-powered tools: They have been replaced with battery-operated tools. It would not break my heart to never deal with a small gas motor again.


R. B., Colchester, Connecticut

A: You have company regarding the gaskets and diaphragms that may dry out and fail, but modern components are less prone (yet not infallible). I like battery powered stuff, too.

Q: Recently my fuel pump needed to be replaced. The mechanic also replaced one section of the preformed fuel line going to the fuel pump due to an updated design change. The day after I picked up the car, the check engine light went on. Codes say it is the gas cap, but repeatedly tightening the gas cap hasn't helped, despite filling the gas tank and multiple engines starts. The mechanic turned off the check engine light, but within a week it was back on. Is there any chance this is related to the fuel pump and fuel line replacement? Or is it all just coincidence?

J.C., Allentown, Pennsylvania

A: Have you tried a new gas cap? Any leak in the evaporative emissions system, including the cap, will trigger the check engine light. Ask your mechanic to check all the connections he may have disturbed. Of course, I can’t rule out just a coincidence.


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