If your vehicle has disc brakes, it also has brake pads. Your brake pads can wear out before you realize it, and it may be the only thing wrong with your brakes if they’re not working properly. Changing brake pads is a common thing when it comes to brake maintenance. Brake pad issues are usually the first culprit unless you get a hole in your brake line or your rotors are somehow damaged.
An Overview of Brake Pads
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Brake pads are made with steel backing plates and a special material that causes friction when it’s against the disc brake rotor. That friction causes kinetic energy, which is what makes the brakes work to stop your vehicle.
Think about the fact that most vehicles weigh several thousand pounds. A recent article on the New York Times‘ website points out the fact that the average car is over 4,000 pounds. To stop a vehicle of that weight going anywhere from 25 to 75 miles an hour takes a lot of energy.
The brake pads find their home within the brake caliper and they face the rotor with their friction surfaces. When you step on the brakes that caliper squeezes the brake pads together which stops that rotor from spinning, slowly stopping your vehicle.
Each time you stop, the brake pads heat up, which starts to dull them out. How often the pads need to be replaced can have a lot to do with how you drive and how often you drive. If you drive daily, they need sooner replacement. If you’re the type of person that rides on their brakes, you’re wearing them out faster.
Signs Your Brake Pads are Bad
Brake pads are replaced on a regular basis, but they’ll usually let you know when it’s time. Most brake pad manufacturers make them with a groove containing a soft metal strip. Once that strip is exposed (meaning it’s time for new pads) it makes your brakes squeal so you can hear that they need changing. It will also light up the warning light on your dash that lets you know something’s going on with your brakes.
Here is an overview of some of the specific signs it’s time for changing brake pads.
1. Squealing Noises
The squealing noises are a great sign to let you know that your brake pads are worn down. If somehow you managed to have a vehicle with pads that don’t have this notification system, then squealing brakes may be a sign of something even worse. The moment you hear that squeal, you’ll know it’s time to get those pads changed. Don’t keep driving and risk an accident.
2. Clicking Noises
If your brake pads somehow come loose or if your brakes get damaged, you may start to hear a rattling or clicking noise. This noise will happen when you step on the brake or release the brake. If you hear any strange noises when you use your brakes, you should take your car to the mechanic.
3. Slower Stopping
As your brake pads wear out or “fade,” it will cause your stop time to be decreased. If you need to stop abruptly, you might slam into the vehicle in front of you at this point. If it seems to be taking your vehicle extra time to stop when you step on the brakes, it might be time for new pads. Get them replaced before you have no brakes at all.
Brake pads don’t always wear out the same on both sides. If one side is worn out and the other isn’t you may notice pulling to one side of the vehicle when you apply pressure to the brakes. This pulling could also be a sign of other issues with your vehicle, like tire problems or a bad brake caliper. It’s important to get it checked out.
5. Pedal Vibrations
If you notice shaking or vibrations in the brake pedal when you apply pressure, this could be caused by the wearing down of the brake pads. You should replace the pads at this point since you won’t be able to trust your brakes to work properly.
Change Your Brake Pads Consistently
If your brake pads are worn down, don’t hesitate to replace them. Ignoring this issue you can cause major accidents, which could involve more than just you and your car.
Vehicles need working brakes for safety. Changing your brake pads is an easy job, especially if you’re mechanically inclined (and have the right equipment, of course). Otherwise, get your car into the shop and let the pros do it for you.
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