Making sure your brake pads are working properly and replacing them when the time is right, you won’t just save money in the long run. It can also save your vehicle or even your life in an accident. But how do you know to replace your brake pads? What are brake pads for? Let’s look at the how‘s, what’s, and why’s of replacing your vehicles brake pads.
WHAT ARE BRAKE PADS?
Brake pads are a key part of your vehicle’s brake system; they are located between your brake shoe (which locks down, and slows the rotation of the tires) and your brake drum. Other elements of your vehicle, such as discs, rotors and calipers, will start to wear away without functioning brake pads. Maintaining effective brake pads is important to avoid high-price repairs and unsafe driving conditions. This is why it is important to know when to replace the old brake pads on your vehicle.
HOW LONG DO BRAKE PADS LAST?
Brake pads are generally thought to be good between 30,000 and 35,000 mile. However, the real answer to the life expectancy of brake pads varies from vehicle to vehicle and from driver to driver. For example, if you most often drive in urban areas or in heavy traffic, your brakes will be used more frequent than someone driving in rural areas or on highways. Some people also tend to “ride the brake”, which means they press and depress their brakes more than other drivers, making the brake pads wear faster. With a little attention and anticipation, you can easily know when to replace brake pads on your vehicle.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN BRAKE PADS WEAR DOWN?
You cause small amounts of wear and tear on your brake pads each time you brake your vehicle. Whether ceramic, organic and metallic pads, this friction causes small amounts of protective coating to wear away from the brake pad. This deterioration begins to increase over time: when your brake pads become thinner and thinner, they will eventually reach the point where they should be replaced. Here are some signs to find out when to replace brake pads:
- SQUEALING OR SCREECHING NOISES
The first indication that any driver notices is a squealing, screeching or whining noise when brakes are engaged. This sound is caused by a small metal shim indicator embedded in your brake pad. When you hear it regularly, it’s probably time to take your car to a brake specialist for inspection. When brakes are exposed to wet, humid conditions, for example after a rain storm, a thin layer of dust can form on the brake pads and cause a very similar screeching sound during braking. If a sound disappears after the first few times you use your brakes, it is a good indication that it was just a little rust built up on the brake pad and that the brake pad does not need to be replaced.
- LESS THAN A QUARTER INCH OF BRAKE PAD
You can also visually inspect your brake pads to find out if it’s time to replace them. You should see your brake pad compressed against your brake rotor. If the pad is less than 1⁄4 inch thick( about 3 mm) you should consider getting a professional inspection on your brakes, especially if it has been a long time since your last inspection.
- DEEP METALLIC GRINDING AND GROWLING
If you hear a deep, low noise that sounds like a metal grinding or a rumbling growl, it can be a sign that your brake pads are not only worn away, but that your brake discs and calipers have made contact. Since this can cause further damage to your braking system very quickly, you should bring your vehicle to a service shop as soon as possible.
- INDICATOR LIGHTS
Some vehicles have an indicator light on the dashboard to signal when the brake pads need replacing. Check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle has a low-pad warning system. Remember, if the light comes on, you will need your mechanic to replace both the light sensors and the brake pads.
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