If your car is making sounds or handling differently, you may wonder if there is a problem. While there are numerous potential causes for these issues, worn brake pads can be a common culprit. Read on to learn more about what brake pads do, why they may need repairs, and how to take care of them.
How do brake pads work?
When you use the brake in your car, a a hydraulic brake fluid is pushed from a master cylinder down the brake lines. This fluid places pressure on pistons in the brake caliper. A caliper is a hinged component that squeezes the brake pads.
Brake pads can be made up of ceramic, composite, or metal backings; they also contain strong, fibrous materials that can apply friction to brake rotors. The rotors are flat pieces of steel that are attached to your car's axles. When you hit the brakes, the brake pads compress the rotors, thus creating enough friction to slow or stop your car.
How quickly do they wear down?
Some materials, like ceramic, wear down more quickly than others. But all brake pads gradually wear down each time you apply pressure to your brakes. Your brake pads may last you thousands of miles, but you should stay on top of inspections just in case they wear down prematurely.
Why is it so bad to drive with worn brake pads?
Again, your car may start handling differently if your brake pads are worn down. This is incredibly dangerous. If you need to stop suddenly, the brake pads may not do their job and the car could pull to one side and cause a crash.
If you are hearing squeaks or squeals, this could be an indication that the pads have worn down to their metal backings. When this happens, it will take more time for you to come to a complete stop.
Worn brake pads can cause unneeded expenses. When you have worn brake pads, they will actually cause your wheels to heat up. This means that your rotors can actually warp and require total replacement.
What should you do to prevent this issue?
Contact an auto service and ask about a recommended maintenance schedule. If you already are having handling issues and/or hearing noises when you press your brakes, don't wait to contact a service.
Costhelper says that brake repairs can cost between $130 and $900 per axle. You may be able to lower the price by going to an independent shop rather than a large dealership.
While replacing the brake pads will cost money, you can save yourself from costlier damages down the road. If you stay on top of the maintenance, you won't have to replace damaged rotors.
Ask about the recommended levels of brake fluid for your car. You can reduce the wear and tear your brake pads receive by maintaining proper levels. If you have too much brake fluid, it can expand and begin to apply pressure to brake calipers, causing the brakes to drag. If you have too little fluid, then your handling could be affected, and your brake pads could wear unevenly.
Consider your own driving habits. If you constantly speed and slam your brakes, then you will unnecessarily wear down the brake pads. To improve the longevity of your brake pads, give yourself a good following distance when you are driving on the highway.
Lastly, make sure that you aren't towing weight that's over your vehicle capacity. If you need to carry a lot of weight, try to divvy up the load with another vehicle.
For more information about brake repairs, contact a brake service in your area.