Today: Mary saved the geese, but was it at the expense of her brakes?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 2011

Dear Tom and Ray:

I was driving on a rural road and rounded a bend where there was a family of geese crossing: Mama, Papa and five goslings. I successfully slammed on my brakes, and they crossed the road safely. The thing is, I really, really smoked the tires, and perhaps the brakes as well.

It reminded me of the drag races when the guys smoke their tires to make them stick to the road better. Should I have someone take a look at them? I was 20 miles from home, and the brakes worked fine the rest of the way. I also wonder if the tires could have been damaged by the skid.

-- Mary

TOM: No, forget about it. Brakes are designed to be used that way when necessary.

RAY: That's the limit of their ability. You don't want to use anything at the absolute limit of its ability all the time -- whether it's brakes, a cooling system or your brother's limited brain capacity.

TOM: If you used the brakes like that every time you stopped the car, you'd overheat them and warp the rotors. But slamming on the brakes one time, or once in a while, doesn't do any damage at all.

RAY: Same with smoking the tires. If you don't have anti-lock brakes, you probably skidded and took a little rubber off a couple of your tires. That may have created small, temporary flat spots. But those certainly went away as you drove. So as long as it's not the way you drive every day, there's nothing to worry about.

TOM: So forget about it, Mary. The brakes and tires did what they were supposed to do: They stopped the car quickly when you needed them to. And any minor, temporary wear and tear you put on them is more than offset by the good karma you gained from the goose gods.

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