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What are The Signs of Worn Brake Pads?

last updated May 23, 2019

Knowing the signs of worn brake pads is very important for any driver because continuous driving with worn pads can cause damage to other components of the brake systems and the vehicle. So what are the signs of worn brake pads? Read on to find out more.

What are The Signs of Worn Brake Pads?

Brake warning light

Most cars have a brake warning light on the dashboard. When this light turns on, it is an indication that something is wrong with the brake pads and you need to make an appointment with your mechanic as soon as possible.

Pungent smell

If you notice that your tires are emitting a pungent smell after driving for a while, this is a sign that the brake pads are worn out and need replacement. Continuing to drive under these circumstances can be very dangerous. It is recommended that you make regular stopovers every time you detect the smell until you get to a place where your brake pads can be inspected.

Vibrations

One common sign that the brake system isn’t functioning normally is the vibration of the steering wheel. They can also be felt on the brake pedal and they are as a result of the rotor and the caliper grinding against each other.

Malfunction of the brake pedal

This sign of a worn brake systems doesn’t occur that often, but if you find that you have to apply extra pressure on the brake pedal so as to stop or slow the car, you need to have your brake pedals changed as soon as possible. This is because there is a likelihood that the brake pedal will become functionless because of the continuous application of force on the pedal.

How to Protect your Brake Pads

Whether you are driving an old or new vehicle, it is important to protect your brake pads to prevent damaging other parts of your vehicle. You can increase the life span of your brake system by;

·Emptying the trunk

We all keep un-necessary stuff in our trunks and the overloading causes the brakes to strain. Removing stuff that you don’t need can help to increase the life of your brake pads.

·Aggressive Driving Habits

If you want your brake pads to serve you longer, you need to quit aggressive driving habits such as sudden breaking that cause excessive heating to the wheels and rotors.

·Speed Limits

Observing the speed limits for every given road is one tested and proven way to maintain your brake system in good condition. This is because when you are within the speed limit, you will have enough time to decelerate making the friction between the caliper and the brake pads minimal.

How do I know when my brake pads need changing?

The most common way of knowing when your brake pad needs changing is by looking and listening. You look by inspecting the brake pads through the wheels for any signs of wear and tear as well as the thickness levels. If the brake pad looks thin then it needs to be replaced.

The other method is listening for any screeching sounds produced every time you press down on the brakes. If you hear the high-pitched sound often, it is recommended that you take your vehicle to a mechanic for a check-up and repair if need be.

Is it hard to replace brake pads?

Replacing brake pads isn’t as hard as most people think. In fact, you can do it by yourself without the help of a mechanic. All you need is to get the following simple tools

  • Jack
  • Tire Iron
  • C-clamp
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench

The first step in changing your own brake pads is raising the car using the jack so as to be able to easily access the rotors as well as the brake pads. You should ensure that you are parked in a level ground before raising the car.

Once the car is raised, proceed to remove the wheels using the tire iron and you will be able to see the brake pad. Use a wrench to remove the bolts that hold the caliper in place. When the caliper is out of the way, you can proceed to remove the brake pads.

If the rotor is damaged, you should consider replacing it together with the brake pads. This can be done by applying grease on the rotors and using a screwdriver to make them loose. Before placing the new rotors, ensure that you clean the surface with brake cleaner to get rid of any residuals.

After the new rotors are in place, you can proceed to replace the brake pads and put the wheel back in its place and you are good to go. It is recommended that you set apart about three hours to get the whole job done. Of course, you can change in the pads in a shorter duration of time but you want to give every single component full attention. If you feel that this involves a lot of work, you can always ask your mechanic to help.

Can worn brake pads cause damage?

Worn brake pads can cause a lot of damage to other components of the vehicle which might make repairs to be more expensive. Some of the components that are affected by worn brakes include;

·Rotors

Rotors are the first to feel the impact of worn brakes. This is because when the brake pad and shoe aren’t able to effectively stop the car when you step on the brakes, the pressure is transferred to the rotors. Over time, the rotors become cracked and replacing them can be very costly.

·Calipers

Calipers are an important component of the brake system as they serve to connect the rotor and the brake pad. When you press down on the brakes, the calipers transmit the pressure to the rotors to reduce the rotating frequency of the wheel. If the brake pads are worn out, there is no buffer between the caliber and the rotors which leaves the two metals grinding against each other.

·Suspension system

The suspension system is responsible for cushioning critical car components from the force of bumping caused by hitting potholes or riding over a bump at high speed. Worn out brakes can affect the suspension system over time by making it misaligned. This is why it is recommended that you replace brake pads regularly to avoid the damage of other critical components of the vehicle.

·Wheels

When the braking system isn’t functioning well, the wheels are affected because the car doesn’t stop as it should. If not corrected, this can cause the wearing out of rubber on the wheels requiring you to get a new set of wheels.

How to check brake pads

Knowing the status of your brake pads is very important because you count on their functionality each time you press down on the brakes. Checking the thickness of your brake pads as well as any signs of wear and tear is one of the steps of guaranteeing a safe journey for the occupants of the car. But how do you know how to check brake pads? Worry not as checking the status of your brakes is very simple. Just follow these easy methods.

·Inspect the wheels

Ensure that you haven’t used your vehicle for 30 minutes before commencing the inspection. This is because the brakes become very hot when you used even for a short distance. Continue to inspect the brake pads without removing the wheel. If you notice that there is no build-up of dust on the brake pads, this is a sign that you need to visit the mechanic for a more professional diagnosis.

A worn out brake pad will also look thin when observed through the spaces on the wheels. If you can’t see it well, consider getting a flashlight for a better view. If it looks thin with any signs of wear, it is about time that you had it replaced.

If you can’t see the brake pad well with the wheel in place, consider using a jack to remove it to get a closer look. This method is very effective as you get to inspect the brake pad as well as brake lines and caliper. Any signs of wear and tear on any of these components are an indication that your brake pads are worn out and need a replacement.

Plugging a Car Tire

·Dashboard Light

Some vehicles have a warning light on the dashboard that turns on when the brake pads need replacement. Read the manufacturer’s manual to determine if your car has that light so that you can be on the lookout for the indication that your brake pads need to be replaced.

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Experiencing Any of the Braking Symptoms?

Have you experienced any of the signs highlighted above? If yes, there is a likelihood that your vehicle has braking problems. A close inspection of the brake pads through the wheels should enable you to make a conclusion on the status of the brake pads. You should also consider visiting the mechanical so that he can take a look at the braking system.

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