Image by Laineema
Brakes are an essential part of any car (or truck, bus, motorbike etc. for that matter!). Most cars nowadays use a braking system called disc brakes, which as the name suggests, uses discs to slow down the car. Disc brakes work by brake pads clamping down on the discs (which rotate at the same speed as the wheels/are connected to the wheels).
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Obviously since friction is used to slow down the car, both the discs and pads will be subjected to heat and as a result, will wear down. So how would you know when to replace your brake pads? Read on to find out some common methods.
In the image above, number 3 is the wear indicator. Image by Ehsnils
- Brake Pad Wear Indicator
On some brake pads, there is a small metal tab that will grind against the rotor when the pad material is running thin. Although this is a near foolproof way of telling that your pads are worn, it might cause grooves into the disc – which if deep enough, could damage them. Also, a side effect of hearing the indicator is that the noise is extremely piercing – usually a scraping or high-pitched screeching noise.
Image by Dave Linger
A not so accurate way would be to try and gauge the thickness of the pads while looking through the wheel. If the wheel is turned, you might be able to see the pads inside the brake caliper. This is not a very recommended technique, as it is very inaccurate and will not allow you to see any other potential issues with the pad. This technique also relies on the assumption that the pad is wearing at an even rate.
Image by treemonster86
Most of the time, your workshop will be able to advise you on whether you require a brake pad change when servicing your car. Once they remove the wheels, they will have full access to the brakes to check the pads and discs fully.
It is important that a cars brakes are kept in good, working order. If you are unsure about whether your brakes need to be changed, bring it to an expert. Remember, especially in the case of brakes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.