If you want your car to function smoothly without any hiccups, you need to make brake pad replacement and service a part of your regular maintenance schedule. Now that we have that out of our way, let’s dive directly into what brake pads are and why, how and when to replace them.
What are Brake Pads?
An essential brake system component, brake pads are meant to apply pressure and friction to a car’s brake rotor. It is situated between the brake calipers and the rotor. It mainly consists of a friction material attached to a steel backing plate. When you apply the brake, the brake pad is forced against the surface of the brake rotor. The friction and pressure created by this make the tyres of your car slow down and stop safely.
Since the brake pad is exposed to a lot of pressure and heat generated by friction, it’s bound to wear eventually. Hence, regular maintenance and replacement are mandatory. Ignoring the brake pads of your car can sometimes prove fatal.
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When is Brake Pad Replacement Necessary?
Your car will tell you when it’s time for brake pad replacement. Some of the tell-tale signs are:
- If you own a new car, your dashboard’s instrument cluster will probably alert you as soon as the friction material wears down to the point of replacement. If you don’t know what the symbol of brake pad replacement looks like for your car, go through your vehicle’s user manual.
- Not all cars will have that symbol on the dashboard, but other signs also indicate the need to replace the brake pads. One of them is a loud squealing or squeaking noise that your car makes while driving, even when you are not applying the brake. If you hear this noise, know that it’s time to replace the brake pads.
- While pulsating brake pedal usually indicates a warped rotor, you might also need brake pad replacement if you face this issue.
- If your vehicle pulls to one side during braking, it could mean a worn-out brake pad. However, this could also be a symptom of misaligned suspension, tyre defects, sticking brake caliper and so on. As such, you should immediately consult an expert and find out which part is causing the problem.
- An illuminated brake system warning light could also mean that the brake pads need to be replaced. Some vehicles might also display a brake system related maintenance reminder message on the driver information display.
As a general rule of thumb, you should get your vehicle’s brake pads checked every 10,000 miles, regardless of whether you face any of the above issues. If the friction material is too thin or worn off, get the pads replaced.
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Why do you need Brake Pad Replacement?
Many of us are guilty of putting off routine maintenance and repair work until issues pile up and our car is rendered non-functional. If you are one of us, don’t do it. Driving with an inefficient or defective braking system is not safe.
Issues with the brake pads or any other braking system component usually increase the stopping distance which can prove dangerous in emergencies. If you notice the stopping distance increase, we recommend immediately taking your car to an expert mechanic. Driving with this issue isn’t advised. If you notice one of the above symptoms but the stopping distance hasn’t increased, you can still drive the car. However, you should get it checked at your earliest convenience.
How is it Done?
If your car needs brake pad replacement, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the whole procedure:
- Verify if brake pad replacement is immediately needed. Measure the thickness of the friction material on the brake pad. If the thickness is less than 2 mm, you need new brake pads
- Check the brake rotor surface for rust, scoring, etc. and also measure its thickness variation and warpage
- Examine whether the brake caliper is operating without being stuck
- If everything else is working fine, replace only the brake pads. Or else, replace any other component that’s defective or damaged as well
- Lubricate the brake components including calipers, sliding pins and check the level of brake fluid.
- If required, top-up the fluid
- Perform a thorough safety inspection of the vehicle and road test the car for proper operations
To ensure your car doesn’t pull to one side while braking, whenever you replace the brake pads, replace both. Whenever you get the brake rotor or brake drum replaced or resurfaced, get the brake pads checked and replace if necessary. For all your car troubles, remember Swezo. We connect you with the top-rated mechanics in your area and get all your repairs and replacement done promptly.