9 Common Symptoms Of Bad Brake Pads ( & Replacement Price )
IT’S IN EVERY DRIVERS BEST INTEREST TO KNOW ABOUT THESE COMMON BAD BRAKE PAD SYMPTOMS
There's a lot more to the vehicle’s braking system than simply pressing down the brake pedal and bringing the vehicle to a stop.
A vehicle’s braking system consists of a number of parts that work together, translating the driver's actions into physical force that stops the car. One of the brake parts instrumental in slowing down and bringing your vehicle to a halt is your vehicle's brake pads.
Brake pads are a vital brake part because they are the components that press against and apply pressure and friction to the disc brake rotors, which in turn slows and stops the vehicle. Considering how fast a vehicle's wheels rotate and how much a typical vehicle weighs, brake pads undergo extreme stress every time you slow down or come to a stop, so it is no wonder that eventually they will wear out and will need to be replaced.
It is in every driver's best interests—not to mention the interests of their passengers and other motorists—that their brake pads always function properly as bad brake pads not only affect braking performance as a whole but can be incredibly unsafe. If they are bad or failing, you should get them checked as soon as possible and replaced if necessary.
Most newer cars today have brake-pad sensors, known as brake pad wear indicators, that notify the driver of worn brake pads via a warning light on the dashboard while other cars make the driver aware that the brake pads are about to fail by squealing and screeching and grinding, making it hard to ignore! Either way, you will likely experience a few other symptoms when your brake pads are getting towards their end of life, making diagnosis relatively easy if you are aware of the common symptoms.
These are some common symptoms that can alert you to brake pad problems before they become too serious. By knowing the warning signs and catching the problems early, you can avoid extensive damage and more expensive brake repairs down the track.
The Following Symptoms Should Alert You Of Bad Or Failing Brake Pads:
Possibly the most common symptom of bad or failing brake pads is noisy brakes.
High Pitched Squealing or Squeaking Noises
Squealing or squeaking noises coming from your brakes are warning signs your brake pads are wearing low. A high-pitched squeal when you are not braking is more than likely coming from the brake pad wear indicator, also referred to as a “squealer”, making contact with the rotor. This is a small tab of metal in the brake pad that scrapes the disc brake rotor to emit a high-pitched noise when it's time to replace your brake pads.
Grinding noises when you brake is not a noise you want to hear as this more than likely indicates that the brake pads at one or all of the wheels are gone completely. The backing plate typically contacts the rotor and emits metal-on-metal grinding or grumbling noises and there is a rough feeling in the brake pedal. Whether you have disc or drum brakes the brake pad or shoe is probably scraping on metal contact points. If you hear this noise you should take your vehicle to a mechanic immediately as further use of the brakes can cause serious damage to the rotors.
Extended Stopping Distances/poor Brake Response
Because the brake pads are essentially the direct component in the braking system that provides the friction to slow down your vehicle, they are crucial to your safety. It is the friction material in brake pads that helps reduce the speed, and therefore badly worn brake pads cannot slow the vehicle as metal against metal cannot create the same amount of friction, leading to poor brake response and reduced brake efficiency. This could place you in a very dangerous situation where you are unable to brake in time.
Visual Inspection: Grooves In The Rotor Surface/thickness Of the Brake Pad
If you take a look at the rotor between the wheel spokes and can detect deep grooves and scratches on the surface of it, it means your brake pads are completely worn out.
Another way to easily check on your brake pads is to visually inspect them for wear. Again if you look between the spokes of your wheels you will be able to locate your brake pad. If it appears to be less than a ¼ inch or 6.4 mm thick, you are due for a replacement set.
Brake Pedal Pulsation
Another symptom of bad or failing brake pads is pulsation in the brake pedal when the brakes are applied. This could also indicate a problem with the rotor.
Spongy Brake Pedal
If the pedal feels like it has no resistance, that you need to put more pressure on it than normal, or goes all the way to the floor and feels soft and spongy it usually indicates bad brake pads.
Vehicle Pulling To One Side When Braking/uneven Braking
Vehicle pulling or wandering is another indication of bad brake pads. If brakes are worn out on one side only, braking is uneven and your vehicle can swerve, pulling to one side or the other.
Brake pads that are worn, damaged, or warped, may cause your vehicle to vibrate along with a squeaking sound that typically indicates that your brake pads require a replacement. Similarly, brake pads that are contaminated by dirt, oil, or other toxins can also cause vibrations as they attempt to grasp the disc rotor.
Brake Pad Wear Indicator On The Vehicle Dashboard
This is the youngest member of the brake warning light family and most new cars today are equipped with this feature. Brake pad wear indicator lights alert the driver when it is time to have the brake pads replaced. As we have discussed, brake pads contain friction material that grasps the rotors when you depress the brake pedal. Understandably, through constant use, the friction material wears away in time and gets very thin. Tiny sensors detect when your brake pads are nearing their minimum thickness and are too thin, tripping the warning light on the dashboard to let you know the time for a brake service and/or replacement has arrived.
The Brake System Warning Light/maintenance Reminder Message
If the brake light indicator appears on your dashboard, it’s either time for your regular brake maintenance or an alert to a potential problem with the brakes. Usually, when this light comes on, it means one of two things - either the hydraulic fluid (brake fluid) in the master cylinder is low (it could have a leak), or it can signal that the emergency/parking brake is engaged (especially on older vehicles). If this is the case, release the parking brake and see if the warning light goes away. If it does not, then you could have a potential problem with your brakes.
Remember you can always consult your vehicle owner’s manual for more information on your vehicle’s dashboard indicators and warning alerts.
Brakes are one of the most crucial components in your vehicle’s braking system and should be properly functioning at all times.
Being an essential safety feature, it is never advisable to ignore any potential problems with them. To ensure the safety of you, your passengers, as well as other drivers, ensure your braking system is regularly checked and serviced.
Brake Pads Maintenance And Replacement
Maintaining effective brake pads is important. Left unfixed long-term, brake pads will eventually wear into the rotors, which will then also need to be replaced. The caliper piston could over-extend or even contact the rotor surface, resulting in you requiring new calipers. Basically, it will end up being an expensive repair that could have been avoided in the first place and more importantly, it is unsafe to drive with failing brake pads.
Brake Pad Replacement
Generally, brake pads should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, however, the exact number can differ depending on driving conditions and your driving style. It’s important to check your brake pads at regular intervals and to be able to identify when they need replacement. Every car owner and driver should familiarise themselves with the most common symptoms mentioned above.
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