Did you know that worn-out or damaged brake pads can significantly increase the stopping distance of a car, which makes it crucial to ensure that brake pads need proper maintenance and replacement?
This can get risky because if your car doesn’t stop in time, it can crash and cause fatal damage to you and your vehicle. So, you need to maintain your brake pads on a regular basis for a better and safer driving experience. But the question is,” How to check brake pads?“
Don’t worry if you’ve never fixed a car before! You can still learn how to check your brake pads and the state of the rotors using these easy-to-follow instructions.
In this blog post, we will cover how to inspect your brake pads by following easy steps, and you will be able to perform a brake fade checkup like a professional.
You may be interested to read What is a brake fade and what causes it What is an engine brake?: Understanding the Function and Benefits Can you use transmission fluid for brake fluid?
What are brake pads and how do they work?
Brake pads are flat-shaped thick piece of steel that has friction ability. When you press the brake pedal, they create friction, which helps slow down and stop the wheels from moving. To put it simply, it’s a crucial part of your braking system.
There are many types of brake pads available some of them are:
Non-metallic/organic: As the name says, they are not made of metal; in fact, they are the softest kind of brake pads available. Being the softest material for a brake pad, they get worn out easily too, which creates too much brake dust too.
Semi-metallic: In most of the new cars available nowadays uses semi-metallic. Semi-metallic brake pads are more heat resistant than other pads available, but that also makes them less efficient in colder temperatures.
Ceramic: ceramic brake pads are the most premium option available for brake pads. As the premium tag means, it’s also more highly-priced than others. They can handle very high temperature and creates lesser brake dust than any other brake pads available.
Ceramic brake pads can only be used with some specified vehicles because not all vehicles are compatible with them.
How to tell if your car’s brake pads are worn out?
We will discuss 3 ways how to check your brake pads for any wear and damage. But before doing it, make sure the brakes are cool enough to touch. Because even a short drive can make them extremely hot, so the way is to give them at least an hour to cool down before you start working on them. This will help keep you safe and prevent any accidents.
Way no 1: Recognizing Signs of Worn Brake Pads
Listen to your brakes when you stop your car.
Many brake pads come with a special “wear indicators” feature that helps your vehicle prevent brake failure. These are some metal tabs located near the top of the brake pad. When the brake pad wears down to a level where the indicator is, it scrapes against the rotor, which creates a loud screeching noise like grinding, growling, or squealing. That alerts the driver that the brake pads are worn out and must be replaced. If you notice such sounds, you will need to inspect your brake pads for any damage.
Another sound that comes from a faulty brake pad is a clicking sound. Some cars use particular holding devices for holding brake pads, while others use clips, bolts, or pins to keep the brake pads in place.
The main intention of these designs is to prevent the brake pads from moving around and keep them steady. If the brake pads become loose, they can rattle and create a clicking sound when you apply or release the brake pedal. So check if your brake pads are in their place.
Check if your brake pedal is pulsating or vibrating.
When your car’s brake pads are worn out, you may feel a vibrating sensation in the steering wheel or brake pedal while driving. This is because When you press the brake pedal, your car’s brake pads rub against the rotors to create friction, which allows you to slow down your car.
However, if you usually drive in heavy traffic, like in urban areas, or you frequently brake hard, your brake pads may lose the ability to dispatch heat and not be able to dissipate the heat generated by friction correctly.
This can cause your rotors to overheat and deform, creating uneven surface spots. When you brake with uneven rotors, the brake pads have to clamp down on these rough surfaces, which can cause your brake pedal and car to vibrate. If you notice this, it’s essential to take your car to a mechanic to have it thoroughly inspected.
Measure your brakes as you come to a stop.
When you are driving your car, check how it stops after pressing the brake.
If you press the brake pedal all the way down, but your car doesn’t stop right away, it may be a reason that your brake pads are worn out, old, and need to be replaced.
The brake light turns on without any reason.
If you are driving, your car and the brake light are turned on without any reason. It may be because the brake sensor is detecting interference in your brake pedal without pressing the brake pedal. If that happens, you should inspect it thoroughly by a mechanic.
Way no 2: Check your brake pads without removing the wheel.
Well, in this process, you can easily determine the life of the brake pad by looking at it through the holes in the wheel or using a flashlight to get a better view.
Step 1: Place a straw on the brake pads to measure the thickness. Determine how much of the straw is occupied until the straw meets the brake pad’s end.
Step 2: now, take a marker and draw a line where the straw and brake pad meet.
Step 3: Next, measure the straw with a vernier scale. If the pads look thin, less than 1/4″, it’s time to replace them. Some brake pads also have a wear indicator slot down the center, which can help you determine when it’s time for a replacement. If the slot is gone or just barely visible, it’s time to change your brake pads.
Way no 3:Check brake pads by removing the wheel
If you can’t feel or see any damage on your car’s brake pad through the wheel, you will require to take off the wheel to get a closer look.
Step 1: Before starting this process, make sure your car is parked on a flat surface, then use a jack to lift the car up about 6 inches off the ground.
Step 2: Next, remove the lug nuts and take off the tire. After removing the tire, you’ll be able to see the brake pad, as well as other vital parts like the caliper, rotor, and brake lines.
Step 3: now carefully inspect the brake pads and rotors to see any wear or damage. Take a vernier scale caliper and measure the thickness of the brake pads. If the brake pad is less than 1/4 “(6.35mm) thick, it’s time you need to replace your brake pad.
How Often Do You Need To Check Your Brake Pads?
You need to check your brake pad every 6 months or after every 16000 miles.
Brake pads typically last between 25,000 to 65,000 miles, but this can vary depending on how you drive(small distances or long rides), the type of surfaces you drive on(urban areas or offroad), and the weight of your vehicle. So, factors like your driving habits and the conditions you drive in will affect how long your brake pads will last.
But for safety measures, you need to check your brake pads on a regular basis, like every six months. This will help you to recognize any early wear or damage before the brake pads stop working and any brake failure.
Tips On How to Make Brake Pads Last Longer
Here are some easy-to-follow tips to help you take better care of your brake pads and reduce the recurrence of replacements:
- Be careful when you are braking: Try to predict when you’ll need to stop and brake, and also try to apply gentle and gradual pressure. Avoid any kind of sudden and forceful braking, as it can strain your brake pads.
- Keep an eye on your speed: Avoid unexpectedly slamming on your brakes by maintaining an appropriate and steady speed. Driving at excessive speeds increases the pressure on your brake pads when you need to stop suddenly.
- Gradual acceleration: Try to do so smoothly and steadily when starting or speeding up. Rapid acceleration can strain your brake pads when you need to slow down again.
- Travel light: Avoid driving with unnecessary heavy items in your car if possible. Clear out any baggage that you won’t need for your journey. Also, remove the roof racks when they’re not in use, as they can create additional drag and strain on your brakes.
By following these tips, you can help extend the lifespan of your brake pads so that you don’t need to replace them frequently.
Brake pads are a crucial component of your vehicle. They need to be checked after a certain period on a regular basis. Because if you leave it unchecked, any worn out or damaged pads can be risky for you.
It can be a nightmare if the brake fails and doesn’t stop your vehicle in time. But How To Check Brake Pads? We have mentioned above how you can check brake pads. By following step by step, you can check your brake pads efficiently.
So after every six months and 16000 miles, you will need to check your brake pads based on the process mentioned above if you feel that you won’t be able to check your brake pads yourself. It’s best to inspect and get it fixed by a professional mechanic.