At some point, the brake pads on your car will become worn. It’s inevitable, mostly because that’s their intended function. The stopping power of your car is derived from friction; a brake pad designed to glide smoothly over a brake disc would not effectively reduce your speed. With time, the pads’ friction substance will wear down to the point where the backing plate may be seen.
Changing your brake pads before they reach this position is crucial since this is a Bad Thing. That’s why you should always make sure your brake pads are the proper thickness.
The minimum width for brake pads
It is recommended to replace the brake pads before they reach a thickness of 1.5mm. The typical thickness of a brand-new brake pad is about 10 millimeters. If your brake pads get down to 3 millimeters of wear, it’s usually time to change them, according to most manufacturers and specialists.
Verifying the brake pad thickness and disk wear
- While it is possible to get a good idea of the disc’s condition and the thickness of the brake pads with the wheels off, removing and cleaning the pads is necessary for a thorough inspection. You can check the calipers’ functionality and inspect the brake disc’s condition from every angle.
- Second, put the handbrake on, jack up the front of the vehicle, and set it firmly on axle stands if you need to check the front brakes. Taking the front wheels off. Before you use axle stands, chock the front wheels and lift the vehicle’s rear end if you’re examining the brakes on the back.
- Third, the thickness of the pads may be observed via the front of the caliper when the wheels are removed.
- After finishing, put the wheels back on and lower the vehicle to the ground.
The Minimum Safe Thickness for Brake Pads
The precise dimensions of brake pad thickness, like those of most automobile components, are very model and make-dependent. Even though they all use disc brakes, brake systems can vary greatly from model to model. Trucks with a lot of cargo have bigger brakes and pads because they need more stopping force than little coupes.
As a general guideline, you should get a professional to check your brakes when their thickness reaches approximately seven millimeters or a quarter of an inch. Your brake pads may have a different minimum thickness that is considered safe. Additionally, there may be additional indicators that they need to be replaced.
How do brake pads work?
The brake pads provide an essential purpose, despite their diminutive size. Metal (often cast iron) calipers contain hydraulically driven pistons that make up the braking mechanism.
Because of the frictional force between the pistons the brake pads (which are typically paired) and the brake discs, the brakes become very hot when applied.
The ‘bite’ of the brakes comes from the small amounts of the ‘friction material’ that is deposited onto the disc as you brake. This is why new pads must be “bed in” properly; the pad itself is composed of a steel backing plate and this material.
The friction material determines the pads’ performance, and various compounds impact the pads’ longevity and resistance to brake fade, which occurs when the brakes lose effectiveness as temperatures rise.
A ‘regular’ brake pad would melt under very high temperatures, however, some pads are engineered to rebound from such extreme heat and continue functioning normally.
You won’t find the same set of brake pads for a 1.0 hatchback as you would for a supercar since each type of pad has a recommended operating temperature range.
The pads can be of varying sizes and made of different materials; for example, larger or more performance-oriented cars often have much larger pads than smaller, more modest ones.
You should change the worn-out pads before the disc even touches the steel backing. You may check the condition of your brake pads visually, or you can install auditory wear indicators that make a squeaking sound when the brakes wear down. There are even options that have sensors that will turn on a dashboard light when the pads reach a certain limit.
Warning Signals That It’s Time to Change Your Brake Pads
Manufacturers include a variety of signs to let you know when to replace brake pads, since they are meant to wear down and require replacement. Additionally, there are a few additional red flags that you should be aware of.
The most common indicators that it’s time to change your brake pads are:
- While braking, your vehicle makes grinding noises, it vibrates or shakes, and an indicator warning light comes on.
- In many cases, the screeching sound is the first indicator that they require replacement. A tiny metal component integrated into the pads is responsible for this sound.
When the pads wear down to the point where they need replacing, the metal component contacts the disc and generates an audible screech as you apply the brakes. Taking it to a technician for inspection and probably replacement is the next logical step after hearing this sound, which is quite typical.
If the sound intensifies and becomes grinding, you may be entering a hazardous area. Brake pads can wear all the way through the material.
Then, the backing plate of the brake pad will make contact with the rotor, which is an entirely distinct thing. Unintentional contact like this can cause a slew of problems with the brakes, including a loss of braking power altogether.
Similarly, vibrations upon braking are a major cause for alarm. These can be caused by worn out brake pads, damaged discs or rotors, or even a jammed brake caliper, which is responsible for pushing the brake pad. This is clearly not a routine procedure and needs to be repaired very soon.
A brake system sensor can help figure out when it’s time to change the pads on some cars. In the event that they require servicing, a warning light will be illuminated within the car. However, the absence of illumination should not be taken as an excuse to disregard other indicators.
Brake pressure sensors are analogous to tire pressure sensors. You should fix the problem right away if the light goes on, even though they aren’t flawless all the time.
A Guide to Inspecting Brake Pads
Checking the brake pads on a regular basis is essential because brake pads wear out rapidly on many vehicles. Fixing a flat tire is something that many people can perform on their own using tools that come with nearly every car.
To gain a better look at the brake pads, lift the car and take the wheel off. Because brake pads might wear unevenly, it’s recommended to inspect all four of them. However, you should at least inspect one of the front pads because these usually wear out first.
To inspect your brake pads, follow these procedures.
Hoist the Car into the Air
How to properly jack up your vehicle is usually detailed in the handbook. To place oneself in danger-free or damage-free mode, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Gloves have multiple purposes: they protect your hands from harm, keep oils away from sensitive areas, and keep your skin clean. On the other hand, here are some broad guidelines to adhere to.
Pull over to a flat area, put your car in park, and press the parking brake. Secure the wheels that aren’t moving by placing wheel chocks near them. Find the spot on the vehicle that says “lifting point” in the handbook, set the jack underneath it, and gradually raise the car.
Loosen the lug nuts just a touch before you lift the tires off the ground. After that, use a jack stand and raise the tire off the ground. You should never lift a vehicle off the ground by using just the jack. To remove the wheel from the vehicle, first loosen the lug nuts.
Check the Rotors and Brake Pads
The brake rotor or disc around the hub can be observed when the wheel is removed. braking pads are housed within the braking caliper, which is positioned around a portion of the rotor. Keep your fingers off the rotor’s surface. The rotor and pad contact points may be affected. If you think the brake pads might be the problem, you must check them. If you see a groove around the rotor’s edge, even if no other symptoms, including unusual noises, exist, you should change the rotor and pads without delay. Take a side view of the caliper and rotor to see the pads. Pads that seem to be pressing up against the rotor are actually there. There shouldn’t be any resistance even without pressing the brake pedal; this is a typical occurrence. When calipers become jammed, they can drag more than necessary. Find out what the thickness of the brake pads is. In cases where it is visible, omit the backing plate. When the pads wear down, you can also check for the little metal part that will hit the rotor. It is likely that you should get new brake pads if they are thinner than a quarter of an inch, are making contact with the rotor, or fall below the manufacturer’s replacement specification. See a mechanic about getting it checked out or maybe replaced.
Why It’s Critical to Inspect and Replace Brake Pads Often
When braking systems aren’t working properly, they lose power and lengthen the distance it takes to stop, both of which are terrible. Be careful to inspect your brake pads often and replace them when necessary to protect yourself, your family, and other drivers.
You may save money on maintenance bills and be safe by doing this.
Parts can dig into the rotors if the pads wear down too much. Unless you forget to change the brake pads, you might not need to change the rotors. It is possible to harm the calipers as well. Calipers shouldn’t require replacement unless there are exceptional circumstances, however, this can be quite expensive.
What kind of brake pads am I supposed to use on my vehicle?
Although there is a wide variety of friction materials, the most common categories are:
- Non-metallic/Organic – a blend of man-made materials bound together. Minimal wear on brake discs, but a short lifespan. Standard road cars typically have these pads installed.
- Semi-metallic –Synthetic chemicals and metal compounds are referred to be semi-metallic. Wears out brake discs more quickly than non-metallic, has a lower pedal feel until it becomes hot, and is tougher on wheels overall.
- Semi-metallic –Typically used for racing, fully metallic. Can tolerate extremely high temperatures, however they are quite harsh on discs and require extremely high temperatures to function well.
- Ceramic-metallic -A ceramic-metallic material is one that combines a thick ceramic substance with strands of copper. Brake Orgadust doesn’t cling to your wheels, it operates incredibly quietly, and its performance remains constant regardless of temperature—it’s the most expensive pad material!
What other way is there to tell when it’s time to update my brake pads?
When the friction material is depleted, you will encounter direct contact with another material. As a result, the disc will feel pressure from the metal pad carrier. This will be audible and felt via the pedal. As you press down on the brakes, you’ll hear rumbling and vibrations. Do not continue driving; replace the brake pads without delay.
You may tell your brake pads are running low when you hear a deep whooshing or groaning sound when you apply the brakes forcefully. Imagine it as a low, rumbling moan.
There is no universally accepted formula for determining the expected lifespan of a pair of pads. But some common sense will help. Pad life expectancy typically ranges between 40,000 and 100,000 kilometers. The lower figure is what you should be considering if you are driving a large, hefty people carrier and have three children. Driving a Mini will cause you to focus on the larger figure. On the other hand, give careful consideration to how you’re driving. Do you tend to brake early? Has the braking been delayed? When you stop, do you brake gently or do you tend to stand on the brakes? As a result, the longevity of the pads may be impacted. Excessive driving reduces lifespan.
Advancing to the side
Is there a noticeable pulling motion when you use the brakes on your vehicle? If so, it may indicate that the pads are not wearing evenly. At this point, it’s important to visually inspect both sides to ensure equal wear. You should always replace the brake pads in a pair. Keep both sides in mind at all times.