My daughter had a problem with her car recently, and it got me thinking about auto safety. She was concerned about her brakes, since they were sqeaking. My reaction was, “let’s get them checked.” Our mechanic told us that the brake pads needed to be changed, and also told us that the calipers were not working. Not suprising for an older model car, but there was no indication of either problem from any “safety electronics” in the car. After the brakes were fixed, my daughter asked this question: “How will I know when I need new brakes again?” My answer: “Have them checked after about 20,000 miles.” Same advice my father gave me, I thought. Why should this be? You would think that auto manufacturers and brake manufactures would be working feverishly to make every part of the braking system as safe as it could be. And since brakes wear down and calipers stop functioning, you would think that there would be some means for the automobile to alert the driver to these unsafe conditions. As far as I know, the only feedback you get from a brake system is the idiot light (or idiot icon) that comes on when your brake fluid is low. How tough is it to embed a sensor in a brake pad that would send an alert when the brake pad is worn down? Is the metal on metal screech the only way to let you know that something is wrong? And can’t a faulty caliper send information about this dangerous condition back to the dashboard? Of course, the latest automobile models offer many sophisticated safety features. But it seems to me that some basic safety features are still not being addressed. E-mail your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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