What are brake pads? How long brake pads last and what factors affect its lifespan?
- on July 29, 2020
- Categories: Car Feature Articles
When you back out of your driveway or cruise along a freeway, you use your brake system frequently. Each time, the system deploys its various key components to ensure your vehicle stops quickly and safely. One of these major components is the brake pad. Located right between the brake shoe and brake drum, the pads are responsible for pressing the brake rotors and applying enough pressure to stop or slow down your car.
Brake pads that don't function properly do not effectively stop your car. These can also damage other important brake system components such as brake rotors or calipers. That's why maintaining brake pads is a vital part of safe driving as well as keeping your vehicle in good condition.
Now you know the basics of brake pads, but what are the different types? How long do brake pads last? And how will you know when to replace them? Let's find out:
Types of brake pads?
Here I'll walk you through the most common types of brake pads and how they differ from each other.
Organic brake pads are designed from carbon, glass, rubber, Kevlar, or fiberglass materials bonded using heat-resistant resin. These types of pads cost less than the other options and have quieter operation. They're also great at putting less stress on your brake rotors. The downside, however, is that organic pads produce a higher amount of brake dust and may wear down quicker.
Semi-metallic brake pads are made from bonding iron, steel, graphite, and copper together. These pads offer excellent performance and are a more durable and cost-effective choice than other types. Semi-metallic brake pads are also cleaner than organic pads. Even though they are highly effective in dissipating heat, these brake pads are noisy and can wear out your brake rotors faster.
In recent years, ceramic brake pads have become quite popular because they exhibit a wide range of benefits. These are created from stacked glass ceramic fibres, bonding agents, filler material, and pieces of various metals. They are cleaner, quieter and longer-lasting than others. Compared to semi-metallic pads, they are less noisy, and reduce heat and brake dust. The biggest drawback of ceramic brake pads is that they come with a higher price tag than the others.
How long brake pads last and what factors affect its lifespan?
The average life of brake pads falls between 40,000 and 105,000 KM. However, you might need a replacement before the 40,000 mark, or they can last after 105,000 KM as well. The variation in lifespan depends on various factors, some of them including:
- Brake pad material
- Driving habits such as braking too quickly or abruptly.
- Your driving environment - urban areas require you to use your break more, while rural locations do not demand as much.
Warning signs to replace new brake pads
Your car is pretty good at telling you when there's a problem. You can catch issues with brake pads and get a replacement on time if you pay close attention to the following warning signs:
If stepping on your brakes creates a squealing sound, it might signify a worn-out brake pad. Your car’s brake pads feature a wear indicator that makes a squealing noise if it touches the brake rotors. Hearing this sound means your brake pads are considerably worn out, and you need a replacement quick.
Screeching, Clicking, or Grinding
An occasional screeching, clicking, or grinding noise is nothing to worry about, however, if it persists, you might need brake pad replacement. These sounds can indicate that dirt or debris is coming in contact with the brake pads or brake rotors.
Worn out brake pads can pull your vehicle from one side to the opposite side when you're hitting the brake pedal. If you experience this, get your brake system checked right away.
A visual inspection is the simplest method for confirming worn-out brake pads, just turn your car’s wheels all the way to the right or to the left to view the brakes. You’ll see the brake pad fitted with the brake rotor and the pad should be more than one-fourth inch wide. If it appears to be less, get your brake pads checked by a professional.
How to extend brake pads lifespan
To get the most out of your brake pads and save money in the long run, follow the tips below:
- Initially slow down when you need to stop your car completely from high speeds.
- Brake taps cause your brake pads to wear quicker, so avoid pressing the brake pedal with your left foot while your right remains on the accelerator.
- Don’t pack your car with heavy items because it increases the total mass and your brakes need to use more energy to stop your vehicle.