It is said that just the engine of a car consists of over 20,000 parts, many of which are moving. Each one doing a specific task, moving in sync with other parts. All these parts are crucial to run your car. Similarly, your car has many other parts which are crucial too, other than the engine. All these parts require servicing and repairs. One of these crucial parts of an automobile are the Brake Pads. You may ask now, “What are Brake Pads?”. They are one of the most crucial components when it comes to the operation and safety of the car.
The purpose of brake pads is to create friction by rubbing against the brake disc to stop the wheel from rotating. They are considered normal wear items since they rub off frequently to provide the friction that makes your car stop when pressed against the disc of the brake.
Brake pads are very necessary for everyone in the car- be it the driver or the passenger, therefore, making brake pad replacement important for everyone. Imagine cruising down a straight road and then pressing your brake, and then nothing happens! It is a frightening situation that none of us want to be in. Hence, it is in all our interests that we should keep a watchful eye on the brake pads and change them when necessary. Making sure that your car’s brake pads are fine and running smoothly won’t just save your money in the long run, but will also do the crucial job of saving your life, in times of crisis. Now that we have decided to change out car’s brake pads, the important question that arises is, how do we know when to change the brake pads? How do you change the brake pads, even if you want to? Let’s take a deeper look into the problem and try to answer all these questions.
Why do Brake Pads wear out?
The life of the brake pads of your car varies from car to car. How long do brake pads last is not a question we can definitely answer. Just like the mileage of each car, the way you drive the car, where you drive it, all these factors are variables in the way your mileage turns out to be. Similarly, your brake pads may wear off differently, depending on your usage of the brakes, the intensity of each braking, and also the frequency of braking. The wearing off of your brake pads depends on a lot of factors.
The brake pads of your car are usually made of metallic, ceramic, organic or composite, high-strength materials. Regardless of the material of the brake pad, the brake pads lose a miniscule amount of material against the brake drum or disc each time the brake is used.
After some time, eventually, the material of the brake pad becomes thinner and thinner as the material keeps on eroding from the pads. This points out the fact that the brake pad cannot be effectively used to generate friction against the brake drum and hence, rendering the brakes completely useless. The end straw is when the material completely wears out and exposes metal of the brake calipers against metal of the brake drum causing extreme amounts of heat to be generated. Hence, all these issues make replacing car brakes at the right time impertinent.
Which Brakes are more important – Front or Rear?
Well, this is also a very common question amongst people: Front or rear brakes more important?. The answer to this would be: all of them. All of your car’s brakes are very important in stopping your car or reducing the car’s speed dramatically. In a normal passenger car, the front brake pads are the primary brakes as all the car’s weight lies behind them. But, this does not mean that the rear brakes are not important. The rear brakes prevent the car from veering or swerving when the brakes are initiated. They also help in reducing the stopping distance. Therefore, you should pay attention to both the front as well as the rear brakes as they both are equally responsible for saving your lives.
When to replace Brake Pads?
There are many pointers that you should look out for while checking for a deteriorating brake pad and also to replace brake pad. Those pointers are given below:
- Screeching noises:
This is usually the first thing that you start to notice in your car. When you brake, if you hear some screeching noises, these are the first indications of the wear of the brake pads of your car. These screeching noises that you hear are made by a small metallic piece called the shim indicator that is embedded in your brake pads for this particular reason. It acts as an indicator for the wear of your brake pads and that you need to get them checked by your car technician to replace brake pads. If you start hearing it regularly while braking, you definitely should get your brake pads checked and also get a brake change the next time you take your car for servicing.
Sometimes, after your brake pads get introduced to water, they might get coated by a layer of dust. This layer can also lead to the brake pads making the same screeching noise. This is not a problem and in most cases, does not lead to the changing of brake pads. This screeching goes away after a while.
- Visual Inspection of Brake Pads: How to visually inspect brake pads? Well, you yourself can visually inspect your brake pads too to know whether it is time to replace brake pads of your car. To do so, all you have to do is to look through the tire spokes and see the brake pad pressed up against the brake disc.
You can bring a measuring scale to measure the thickness of the brake pads. If the thickness is less than half-a-centimetre or less than quarter of an inch, then you should definitely consider taking your car to the nearest service centre and replacing brake pads.
- Metallic grinding noises:
If you can hear deep metallic grinding and growling noises arising from when you initiate the brakes of your car, then the situation is not bad, but it is dire. The deep metallic growling and grinding noises mean that not only are your brake pads worn away, but the brake caliper and brake discs are making contact. This case would need your direct attention and lead you to immediately replace brake pads. This metal contact can very quickly cause irreparable damage and may escalate into something far more serious. Therefore, if you hear such noises, you should immediately contact your nearest service station or drive your car there for a brake replacement.
- Indicator Lights On:
Some vehicles have built-in brake pads wear indicators in the dashboard. You could check the owner’s manual of your car to see whether your car does have that feature. If it does, then you should go to replace brake pads whenever the light comes on. The problem is that if the light does come on, you will have to ask your mechanic to replace the sensors too along with the replaced brake pads.
These are some of the signs that any car owner should look out for while checking for brake pad replacement. There is no clear-cut time and schedule for when you should change your brake pads since the use of your brake pads is dependent on how you use your brakes and how frequently you initiate them. But, since most car owners usually go for a basic service and repair of their cars every six months, it is very advisable that you should ask your mechanic to check your brake pads then itself and replace brake pads, if necessary.