Brake Pads: When Should You Replace Them?
By Integra Tire Canada
Ensuring your brakes are in top shape goes beyond saving money—it’s about keeping your vehicle and yourself safe. But when should you replace your brake pads ? What do they do? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of brake pads and understanding their replacement needs.
What Your Brake Pads Do
When you press the brake pedal, it sets off a chain reaction. A cylinder is activated, allowing brake fluid to flow through hoses to the calipers. The calipers respond by engaging the brake pads, which make direct contact with the rotors connected to each wheel. This friction converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy into heat energy, gradually slowing it down and syncing the wheels.
Over time, brake pads face wear and tear due to the constant friction and heat. As they repeatedly engage with the rotors to bring the vehicle to a halt, the material on the pads wears away. This gradual erosion results in thinner brake pad surfaces, eventually leading to their replacement.
Most brake pads today feature a nifty invention called “wear indicators.” These clever devices serve one purpose—to emit an unpleasant screech when it’s time to replace the brake pads. Positioned near the upper section of conventional brake pads, these metal tabs scrape against the rotor when the pad material wears down significantly. The result? A distinct grating noise that warns you of the pads nearing a critical erosion state.
While wear indicators have become a customary feature, not all brake pads include them. Nevertheless, these handy devices serve as an early warning system, alerting drivers to the progressive deterioration of their brake pads and the need for prompt attention and replacement.
Increased Stopping Distance
A clear indication that your brake pads require replacement is a noticeable decline in braking performance. As the pads wear down, you’ll need to exert more force on the brake pedal to achieve the desired stopping power. If you often find yourself driving downhill in hilly regions, it’s essential to acknowledge the strain it puts on your brakes. Prolonged contact between the pads and rotors leads to elevated temperatures, diminishing their ability to generate the necessary friction over time.
Vehicle Pulls While Braking
Brake pad wear isn’t always uniform. In some cases, one side may wear out faster than the other. When this happens, you might experience a subtle pulling sensation to the left or right when you brake. Ignoring this issue can strain your steering rack, ball joints, steering knuckles, and wheel bearings. To avoid potential risks, it’s crucial to have a mechanic promptly investigate and address the problem.
Many modern vehicles come equipped with dashboard indicator lights that warn you when it’s time to replace the brake pads. Check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle has a low-pad warning system. Keep in mind that if the indicator light illuminates, you’ll need a mechanic to replace not only the pads but also the warning sensors.
Beyond the dashboard, a visual inspection can provide insights into your brake pads’ condition. It may require removing the wheels to observe the brake assembly or “caliper” holding the pads. If the thickness of the friction material on the pad or shoe measures less than a quarter inch (around seven millimeters), it’s advisable to have your brakes inspected, especially if it has been a while since your last check-up.
How Long Do Brake Pads Last?
The lifespan of brake pads and shoes depends on various factors, including your driving habits and the vehicle itself. Frequent braking in urban areas or heavy traffic wears them out more quickly compared to highway driving. Drivers who tend to rely heavily on their brakes will also experience accelerated wear. On average, brake pads can last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 kilometers. Considering the crucial role of your braking system, it’s essential to address any concerns promptly. Visit your local Integra Tire for expert advice and assistance.
Remember, keeping your brake pads in optimal condition ensures not only a smooth ride but also your safety. Stay vigilant and proactive in maintaining your brakes to enjoy worry-free journeys on the road.
Questions? Our Advisors are Happy to Help!If you have questions about anything you've read in this resource page, contact your nearest Integra Tire dealer for more information. We are passionate in assisting our customers make the best choices to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape and keep their families safe.
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