When to replace your brake rotors and pads: A lesson on your car’s braking system

When to replace your brake rotors and pads: A lesson on your car’s braking system

| By: Ed Carey, Christian Brothers Automotive

With life’s already busy to-do list, it can be hard to keep track of all the different parts of your car that may need attention. Today, we thought we’d share a quick lesson on brake rotors and pads to help you stay on top of caring for your car so it’s there for you when you need it.

What exactly are brake rotor and brake pads?

A rotor is a flat-bottomed bowl shaped piece that is an important part of a car’s braking system. When brakes are applied, calipers squeeze the brake pad against the rotor to create heat and friction. This converts kinetic energy into thermal energy- which the rotors can absorb and dissipate to slow the vehicle.

Why are brake rotors and pads important?

The condition of a vehicle’s brake rotors and pads can often be overlooked until a big problem arises. Being in the know about your car’s braking system can save you stress and money down the road if you know how to properly take care of it now.

If the rotors are not working properly or are poor quality, this will increase stopping distance and cause your brake pads to wear out more quickly. The hotter the pad, the quicker they wear out. That’s why it’s important to have them checked regularly to ensure you and your loved ones are safe when driving.

How to tell if your rotors and pads are working properly?

With normal use, parts of your braking system start to wear out over time, particularly the brake pads. Once brake pads have worn below a quarter of an inch, they need to be replaced to ensure safe operation. The easiest way to tell if your brake pad is past the quarter inch mark is to simply look at the brake pad through the space on the wheel.

Another tell-tale sign that your brakes need replacing is if you hear a high-pitched sound when you apply the brakes. This is actually a built-in warning system. There is a metal shim called an indicator on the pad that make this sound whenever the brakes are applied if the pad has worn below a quarter of an inch.

What are other common symptoms of bad brakes?

  1. Vibration- a pulsing feeling when you apply the brakes. If you feel the pulsation in the pedal and steering wheel, then it is the front brakes that need attention. If the pulsation is felt in the pedal and seat, then it is your rear brakes.
  2. Grinding- the sound of metal scratching up against each other means the brake pads are completely worn down and damaging the rotors.
  3. Pulling- If your vehicle pulls to one side when braking your brake pads are uneven or you might have some unknown substance in your brake fluid.
  4. Fading- If you feel like your brakes sink when applied or don’t respond like they should, there is a leak in your braking system.
  5. Squealing- a regularly occurring, high pitched sound when you apply your brakes.

Road Test

A road test is another great option to test the quality of your braking system. If you can find an empty road, begin driving and when you reach 30 mph, apply the brakes heavily without stopping or squealing the tires. If your rotors are warped, you will feel a strong vibration. If you don’t notice any vibration, repeat this process at 60 mph and apply the brakes heavily once again. If you feel a vibration at this point, it means the rotor has slight warpage that can only be felt when stopping at higher speeds.

If you are seeing or hearing any of these warning signs- we are here for you! You can easily schedule an appointment online and we will make sure your brake pads are in good shape for your next driving adventure.

Schedule Appointment Here

If you’d rather swing by the shop, we are located at 413 Louis Henna Blvd. and are open Monday-Friday 7am to 6pm. We’d love to help you with any questions or concerns you have about your car.

Because we place such a high value on customer safety, whenever you bring your car to Christian Brothers Round Rock for maintenance or repairs, we offer a courtesy inspection that includes evaluating the wear and tear on your brake pads and brake rotors. We want you to be confident your car is going to get you where you need to go, so we’ll do our part to make sure it stays that way.

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