When it comes to maintaining vehicles, there are important parts, and there are crucial parts. Brake pads are among the most crucial components that are known to be normal wear, as they create friction that helps stop the car when it is pushed against the brake disc (also called the brake rotor) or, on some vehicles, the brake drum which rotates with the wheel It is in the interests of every driver— not to mention the interests of their passengers and fellow motorists— that their brake pads always function properly and are replaced before they become less efficient. But when were you supposed to replace the pads?
Brake Pad Wear
Whether the brake pads on your vehicle are made of metallic, organic, ceramic or composite materials, they lose a small amount of material each time they are used. Ultimately, they wear thin, which ensures that they can not generate the heat induced by friction as effectively as possible, decreasing their ability to stop the car quickly and potentially increasing the distances required to do so. At the end of the day, they wear out completely, which can create a host of problems.
Whether you find that your brakes aren't as sensitive as they once were, or that they fade quickly, or that the pedal feels different after you've been driving in traffic for a while or down a long mountain pass, it might be time for new brake pads. But sometimes in normal driving, the brakes will feel fine until something else tells you they need to be replaced.
How To Tell If You Need A Replacement
Normally, the brake pads need to be changed after about 50,000 miles. Some need to be replaced after 25,000, while others can last for 70,000 miles–all of this depends on the factors mentioned above. To obtain a more accurate number for the specific needs of your car, consult the owner's manual. Other warning signs indicate that the brake pads are worn out, including:
- Brake pad thickness: Regularly check the thickness of the brake pad. Whenever the tires are rotated or the oil is changed take a closer look at the brake pads as well.
- Squealing noise: Brake pads have small metal hairs at the bottom to let the driver know when they're about to run out of holding material; they're starting to make a squealing sound then replace it immediately.
- Awkward breaking: When braking seems jittery, the rotors may be warped Many treatments can be either cleaned or grinding off the surface of the rotor to make it flat again. Most of the time, however, it is easier, cheaper and safer to replace the brake rotor.
Most vehicles have a brake pad sensor that alerts the driver of the brake pads worn by a light in the dashboard or a message on startup. Most braking systems call attention to themselves by squealing or screeching when they get too thin; although irritating, it is usually harmless. It is caused by a metal scraper attached to the pads, which is used as a warning alarm. If the noise is less than a screech and more than a pinching, grinding sound, the pads on one or all of the wheels may be completely removed, and further use of the brakes may cause serious damage to the rotors. This is not the noise you want to hear and if you do, you need to take your car to the brake shop immediately.
So insure that your vehicle is always capable of performing at its best, safest stops possible, it is strongly recommended that you adjust the brake pads before they display any of the irregularities mentioned above — or worse. Your vehicle owner's manual presumably advises that you check the pads at any oil change because the life of the brake pads can vary greatly based on your driving style and whether the car is driven frequently in hilly areas or in dense traffic. Brake pads should be replaced when they reach a service limit of approximately 0.1 inch. As far as costs are concerned, this too varies widely, depending on a number of factors, so we recommend researching the cost of replacing the brake pad well in advance when the need arises. That way, it can be budgeted for the rest of your normal car expenses.
What we do not advise is waiting for the brake pads to be repaired for weeks or months after the first warning signs appear, or finding the proper functioning of the brakes to be anything less than a top priority. They are more critical from a safety point of view than the engine. After all, a poorly maintained engine could lead to engine failure. But if the poorly maintained brakes take longer to stop than they should or, worse, malfunction, life-threatening could be the outcome.
Pay attention to the condition of your brakes today, and you'll avoid major repair bills— or an accident— later. When you feel ambitious and want to remove the brake pads of your car yourself, you will also need to bleed the brake system afterwards.