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Cracked Brake Pads: Understanding the Dangers and Taking Action

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The brakes on your car are crucial because they may bring your speed down from 65 miles per hour to a standstill in an instant.

To stop a moving two-ton car, the brakes must do a lot of work. If your brake pads are worn or damaged, stopping your vehicle will be more difficult, and you risk damaging the rotors.

If you want to know how your brakes are holding up, it’s a good idea to get an examination every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

There are a few different ways they might wear down, and it’s not always uniform. Your brake pads will be taken out and inspected by a professional, who will then measure them.

A technician’s inspection should also reveal any cracks, breaks, or other damage. When you see cracks in your brake pads, it’s time to replace them.

It can grow expensive if the rotors need to be machined or replaced because of damage caused by worn brake pads.

Why Do Brake Pads Crack?

After repeated stops and starts, your brake pad may develop a crack. Manufacturers of brake pads often describe this sort of thing as inevitable. This argument fails.

One of the most prevalent reasons for brake pad splits is using cheap brake pads.

Common reasons for broken brake pads are listed below.

1. Rust

Dust in the brake pad or brake rotor is a common cause of brake pad cracks. The rotor in the braking system rusts because it is constantly subjected to the elements, including precipitation, humidity, and temperature changes.

When the rotor rusts, it transfers to the brake pad, causing the brakes to rust as well. This could cause the brake’s surface to crack.

2. Brake pad friction overheating

High friction between the brake pad and the rotor is another major cause of brake pad cracking. These components should rub against one another, but not too harshly. High levels of friction result in excessive heating.

When the brake pads get too hot, the surface starts to split, or a glazed surface forms when they cool down. This is why routine brake lubrication is so important.

3. Inferior brake pads

Inferior quality brake pads are a common cause of brake pad cracks. Surfaces of brake pads can be produced from a wide variety of materials, such as semi-metal, ceramic, glass, or fiberglass.

Poor-quality brakes employ more metal, which easily fractures under the pressure of friction. Your rotor could be harmed by this substance as well.

4. Defective brake pads

It turns out that some brake pads are manufactured poorly from the start. They could be flawed in construction or have manufacturing flaws. The brake pads will likely fracture under these conditions.

5. Damaged Caliper or Pin

After being used, the caliper is vulnerable to wear and tear from the part’s motion and the environment.

The caliper is susceptible to wear and tear and various forms of injury. This can reduce the effectiveness of the brake pad and even cause it to break.

change brake pads

Knowing the Signs of Cracked or Worn Brake Pads

Even if you know what a worn brake pad sounds like, it’s not easy to spot.

That’s why you should always have a mechanic take care of it for you.

Nonetheless, in order to help you recognize worn brake pads, we will go through several typical wear patterns and types.

1. Pads Worn On the Outside

Pads wear unevenly at the outside edges when the caliper is released and the pad leans against the rotor.

Problems with bushings, caliper guide pins, or slide pins can lead to premature pad wear on the periphery of the braking disc.

When the brake pads on your vehicle reach the outer edge of their service life, it’s time to get the calipers and pads checked by a professional. They’ll also look for worn piston boots and broken seals.

2. Cracks, Glazing, Or Lifting

Pad abuse, defective brake pads, a defective caliper, and a constantly engaged parking brake (emergency brake or e brake) are common causes of glazed or cracked brake pads with raised edges.

When this happens, it’s time to repair the worn pads or the malfunctioning caliper and fine-tune the parking brake (e brake).

3. Uneven or tapered wear

Uneven wear over the pad surface characterizes tapering pad wear.

This sort of use points to one of the following possibilities:

  • Guide pins are worn
  • The brake caliper is caught on the pad
  • The brake pad was placed improperly

Repairing a problem with uneven wear is simple. Simply have a mechanic change the caliper and the brake pads.

4. Inner Pad Wear

Brake pads have inner pad wear when they wear excessively on the inside of the brake.

When the caliper is released and the pad continues to rub against the rotor, or when the caliper piston does not return to its resting position, this is known as caliper drag.

Brake caliper failure, rust, or a broken seal can all contribute to premature inner pad wear.

The same solution applies here as with outer pad wear: have a mechanic replace it.

Inner pad wear can also be caused by a malfunctioning master cylinder.

Your mechanic might check the hydraulic brake system for residual pressure, examine the caliper’s guide pin holes, and so on. They may even inspect for harmed piston boots.

Guide pins and piston boots should be changed if the holes in either have rusted or been damaged.

5. Friction Material That Overlaps

This form of pad wear causes the pad’s upper edge to overlap the rotor’s upper surface.

Having the wrong rotor or brake pad installed on a vehicle is another common cause of this problem.

To repair this sort of brake pad wear, you should get new brake rotors and have them installed according to OE (Original Equipment) standards.

6. Friction Surface Contamination

Pad wear due to friction surface contamination occurs when oil, grease, or brake fluid contaminates the friction material.

Accidental leaks during repairs might have far-reaching consequences for your vehicle. The vehicle may pull to one side, or you may have trouble stopping.

Brake pad replacement is the sole solution to contamination of the friction surface.

brake pads

How to fix a cracked brake pad

In order to repair a cracked brake pad, it is necessary to identify the root cause of the problem. This can only be done by taking a close look at the wheel of the car.

Remove the wheels’ tires so you may inspect them closely. Calipers can be used as a starting point. You should replace the caliper immediately if you find any rust on it or any broken pieces.

Make sure the brake pads and rotor are free of rust, and if the rotor has any rusty spots that aren’t too bad, you can have them cleaned and oiled. If the rotor’s surface is severely rusted, you will need to replace it. In the same way, replace the brake pads.

In addition, you should inspect the brake pads and learn how to repair them if they are glazed. The pad needs to be deglazed, so get some sandpaper or another smoothing tool.

The glazed brake pad can be accessed after the wheel has been removed by using sandpaper to massage the pad’s surface in a circular motion to loosen the glazes. Treat the rotor’s exterior in the same way.

Also, make sure there is no grease, engine oil, or any other fluid that shouldn’t be there on your brake caliper, brake pad, or rotor.

You should inspect the brake fluid line, look for oil leaks in the engine and do some general maintenance if you locate fluid.

Bad brake parts have several drawbacks despite being inexpensive, therefore you should avoid purchasing them. If you want to make sure your cracked brake pads stay fixed, you shouldn’t go for the cheapest option.

Is it safe to drive with a cracked brake pad?

A broken brake pad won’t prevent you from driving, but you won’t have much-stopping power. It’s possible that a cracked brake pad won’t ruin your car or wheel. Brake pads should be replaced at the mm mark on the wear chart.

When the thickness of the brake pads reaches 3 mm, it is recommended that you replace them. Please pay more attention to the brake pads whenever you see a crack in them, as this indicates that they are wearing out more quickly.

Now that you know what could have caused your brake pads to get worn or broken, it’s time to learn when you should replace them.

When to Replace Brake Pads

To prevent serious brake problems, it is advised to replace your brake pads every 50,000 miles.

However, there are a number of variables that affect this, including:

  • Your own driving style
  • The quality of your brake pads
  • The road conditions.

It is desirable for the brake pads on each wheel’s inner and outer to wear at the same rate on both sides of the axle.

The opposite can also be true, though.

Disc brakes are susceptible to uneven pad wear because of even a slight disc thickness variation on either side of the axle.

It’s dangerous to put off replacing your brake pads.

Your vehicle’s stopping distance will increase when your brake pads wear out.

Therefore, it is best to replace your brake pads when directed by the manufacturer or when advised by your mechanic during routine service.

When do brake pads need to be replaced and how does the mechanic know?

Brake pads typically feature a wear indication that shows when they need to be replaced.

When the brake pad wears down to a particular point, a small metal component attached to the pad makes contact with the brake rotor.

To give you an idea of the brake pad wear:

  • If the thickness of your brake pads is between 8 and 12 millimeters, they are in good condition.
  • If the thickness is between 6 millimeters and 4 millimeters, you should consider replacing them.
  • If the thickness is between 2mm and 3mm, you should replace them immediately.

Let’s address some frequently asked questions now that you know when to replace your brake pads.

brake replacement

Brake Pad FAQs

We’ll try to address some of the questions you likely have about brake pads by providing some examples:

1. why do brake pads sometimes break?

Cracked brake pads are easy to spot with only a cursory inspection.

Look for tiny fissures in the pads’ surfaces at the pads’ centers.

Some typical root causes of cracks are listed below.

  • The brake pads are bending, so they can’t slide freely in the caliper.
  • Cracked brake pads can cause the caliper piston to flex in the backplate.

Get in touch with a repair shop to get the caliper pistons replaced.

2. How do Brake Pads work?

The friction substance in brake pads is sandwiched between a steel backing plate.

To slow or stop your car, press the brake pedal. This causes the brake pad to clamp down onto the rotor.

3. What is a “rotor.”

Each brake on a vehicle consists of a disc that rotates to apply or release the brakes. This brake disc is maintained in place by the wheel bearing and is responsible for converting kinetic energy into thermal energy when the brakes are applied.

Friction is generated by the vast surface area of each rotor as the calipers squeeze your brake pads together. Because of this resistance, the wheel’s rotation and the car’s forward progress are slowed.

Please replace or repair any damaged rotors as soon as possible.

4. How Can I Tell If I Have a Problem With My Brake Pads?

The brake system makes noises and gives you sensations when there may be an issue with the brake pads.

Watch out for these things:

  • The use of brakes results in a screeching or grinding noise.
  • Shaking in the brakes or the wheel.
  • The brake light indicator turns on. It could be a sign of a faulty hydraulic system, low brake fluid, or an activated parking brake (emergency brake).

5. What Are the Differences Between Drum and Disc Brakes?

Drum brakes were commonly utilized on all four wheels of earlier vehicles.

The components of this braking system are contained within a spherical drum that rotates in tandem with the wheel. A brake shoe lined with high-temperature friction material is installed internally.

As the brake pedal is depressed, the fluid would push or pull on the brake shoe. The brake shoe is forced against the drum when the brake pedal is pressed, causing the wheel to slow down.

The disc brake uses the same fundamentals (friction and heat) as the drum brake but is more advanced in its construction. Disc brakes utilize a thin rotor and a small caliper to halt wheel motion as opposed to housing the key components within a metal drum.

When you press the brake pedal, the caliper clamps together the two brake pads, one on each side of the rotor. Similarly to other brake systems, brake fluid is employed here to convert pedal pressure into stopping power.

6. how simple is it to repair a brake pad that has become cracked?

You should find a reliable mechanic to inspect your brake pads for damage and make the necessary repairs if they are broken or worn.


When brake pads break, what causes it? If your brake pads are cracked, there may be a problem with your braking system, but at least you know they’re good pads. Brake overhauling is required when cracks appear in the brake pads. If you’re not sure how to accomplish it properly, get someone who can.


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